Three Lives Lost, 150 Homes Destroyed In NSW Bushfire Emergency

Three people have died in bushfires that have destroyed at least 150 homes across NSW, though there are fears the death toll could rise.

Authorities on Saturday evening confirmed a third fatality after a body was found in a burnt-out building in Johns River, north of Taree, on the mid-north coast.

Fires swept through the township on Saturday afternoon.

NSW Police said the home belongs to a 63-year-old woman,however the victim's identity and cause of death has not been confirmed.

Meanwhile, thousands of people are displaced in Queensland as huge fires rage amid dangerous weather conditions that are expected to continue.

Firefighters work to contain a bushfire along Old Bar road in Old Bar, NSW. Photo: AAP
New South Wales

As of Saturday evening, the death toll from the state's bushfire emergency stands at three. But there are fears that could rise, with at least five people remaining unaccounted for.

Wytaliba resident Vivian Chaplain, 69, was earlier named as one of the other victims.

Chaplain was found with severe burns near Glen Ines, in the state's north. She was transferred to a Sydney hospital where she later died, the Rural Fire Service NSW said on Saturday.

A third victim's body was found in a burnt-out vehicle near Kangawalla, east of Glen Innes, and police were working to formally identify the victim.

Bushfire Crisis


Grandmother Died In Bushfire As She Tried To Protect Her Home

The first victim of the unprecedented bushfires ravaging northern NSW has been named as 69-year-old Vivian Chaplain, a "strong woman" who died protecting her home.

Earlier on Saturday, the NSW RFS confirmed at least 150 homes had been destroyed in the blazes, as teams worked to reach the affected areas.

Thousands of residents have taken refuge at evacuation centres on the state's mid-north coast while scores of others have chosen to stare down "massive walls of glowing smoke" as they attempted to protect their homes.

Emergency warnings were in place for fires at Hillville, south of Taree, and nearby Crowdy Bay National Park on Saturday evening.

The Hillville blaze had ripped through 13,000 hectares, while the Crowdy Bay blaze had destroyed 10,500 hectares.

Local mayor David West described the firestorm as "a disaster of magnificent proportions". He cried as he spoke to worried residents -- including parents, children and grandchildren -- in a local evacuation centre.

"To go into a room of a couple of hundred of people and talk to them, I'm sorry, I broke down and cried, you feel so helpless," West said.

"You see tears in their eyes, you see the sense of hopelessness, knowing they've probably lost everything they own. It's such an incredible, emotional time."
A resident watches the progress of bushfires near houses in Old Bar, NSW. Image: AAP

NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian said her thoughts are with all those affected by the fires.

"The situation is very serious," she said in a statement.

"Our thoughts and prayers go to the families and loved ones of those who have died and to all who have been affected by these fires."

Prime Minister Scott Morrison said authorities are bracing for further bad news.

"These fires have already claimed lives ... and as we get access to further areas that have been cut off we are expecting worse news again," he told reporters at Kirribilli House.

Earlier, NSW RFS Commissioner Shane Fitzimmons said the number of fatalities could increase.

"That is not necessarily a [reason] for alarm, but we cannot rule out that the really great concerns that there could be [more] fatalities," he said.

The remains of the residence at Four Paws boarding kennels smoulders along the Pacific Highway south of Taree, Saturday, November 9, 2019. IMAGE: AAP

Fitzsimmons said the blazes they battled on Friday -- at one point fighting 99 fires, a record 17 of which were at emergency level all at once -- had them in "uncharted territory", with seasoned firefighters of some 60 years experience saying they had never seen such conditions.

"We've never seen this many fires concurrently at emergency warning level," he said.



Fires Up Close: 'Unbelievable Sights' Of The 'Unprecedented' Blazes Across NSW And QLD

As thousands of firefighters and residents battle more than one hundred blazes burning across NSW and Queensland, photos shared from the ground show just how close some of the fires are to destroying homes and communities.

There should be a brief reprieve in conditions as temperatures cool over the weekend, but temperatures are expected to rise significantly from Monday.

These cooler conditions may give firefighters a break as they battle blazes in Queensland, but winds could still make their work difficult.


Thousands of people are displaced in Queensland as huge fires rage amid dangerous weather conditions that are expected to continue.

Fifty fires were burning on Saturday afternoon, with emergency warning levels for two blazes north of Noosa on the Sunshine Coast and another southwest of coastal Yeppoon.

A state of fire emergency has been declared across 42 local government areas, with dangerous conditions forecast to continue into next week.

Fire and Emergency Services acting Commissioner Mike Wassing said the declaration prohibits outdoor fires as well as welding, grinding and the use of oxyacetylene cutting or heating outdoors.

"We're experiencing tinder box-like conditions across much of the state and all it takes is one spark to start a fire that may burn for days," Wassing said.

A disaster area has been declared at the Noosa fire that has destroyed a house and forced thousands to evacuate.

It is still so dangerous that police have warned people from Noosa Banks, Noosa North Shore and areas of Cooroibah and Ringtail Creek not to return.

But residents of Tewantin outside of the evacuation boundary were allowed home.

The fire is being fought on the ground and from the air as the evacuees shelter with friends or at evacuation centres.

The fire is being fought on the ground and from the air as the evacuees shelter with friends or at evacuation centres.

Residents of Cobraball, southwest of Yeppoon in Central Queensland, were also told to leave immediately at 7.15pm, as a dangerous grass fire was "expected to have a significant impact on the community".

"Conditions are now very dangerous and firefighters may soon be unable to prevent the fire advancing," an emergency warning issued by the Queensland Fire and Emergency Services (QFES) said.

Further to the south, residents were also told evacuate from near the Thornton bushfire in the Lockyer Valley.

People were also told to get out of the path of a bushfire at Tarome in the Scenic Rim.

Scenic Rim mayor Greg Christensen said it was far from over in his region that also battled huge blazes at the start of the fire season.

One firefighter has broken a leg, but no other injuries have been reported.

Dangerous conditions across the Scenic Rim and much of the southeast moved north into central Queensland late on Saturday.

Conditions are expected to ease on Monday but flare up again on Tuesday.

Western Australia

A bushfire that was threatening locals at a small community north of Perth was brought under control before sunset.

The blaze that broke out in Cataby, 170km north of Perth, was one of two for which an emergency warning was issued on Saturday.

The Cataby fire was brought under control about 90 minutes after the emergency warning was declared at 2.45pm and later downgraded to an advice level.

Parts of Gnangara, a suburb in Perth's north, were also dealt an emergency warning at about 12.50pm, which was later downgraded to an advice.

Bushfire risks in WA spiked with extremely hot, dry and windy conditions across the state.

With AAP. 

For more updates on the fire emergency, and advice from authorities visit NSW RFS or QLD FES.