Three people are dead and more are missing after wildfires erupted on the southeastern coast of Australia, according to the New South Wales Police, fueled by more than two years of drought that has impacted nearly all of the region.
"Unfortunately, many people have called for help but due to the size and speed of the fires we couldn't get to everyone, even by road or helicopter", New South Wales firefighters said.
A woman who was found unconscious and with serious burns Friday near Glen Innes died in a hospital, he said.
"To have 17 of those fires burning all at the same time across a fairly broad geographic area like the north coast of New South Wales, we simply have not seen that before, that level of intensity", Fitzsimmons said.
One blaze cut a destructive path through this community near Taree.
"Not only will they be worse, they will be concentrated much further than just the north-eastern area of NSW".
The two other victims died in the small town of Wytaliba near the Guy Fawkes River National Park, a reserve popular with bushwalkers and birdwatchers.
"We do need to brace ourselves and what is concerning is that the forecast weather conditions on Tuesday could mean that we're not through the worst of it".
The greater Sydney region will be under "catastrophic" fire danger on Tuesday for the first time since new fire ratings were introduced a decade ago, with NSW bushfires having already claimed three lives.
Natural Disaster and Emergency Management Minister David Littleproud warned the fires in NSW and Queensland could get worse on Tuesday and when there are also concerns of potential catastrophic fire levels in Western Australia.
"My only thoughts today are with those who have lost their lives and their families", Morrison said, as hundreds of civilians also volunteered to help their hard-hit neighbours.More news: E-cigarettes don't increase teen smoking chances, study says
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"The reports were initially burns to 40 to 50 percent of her body", RFS Commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons told abc.net.au.
Firefighters are bracing for another hard day as winds across NSW ramp up.
They received a briefing on the unprecedented firestorms at the Mid-North Coast Fire Control Centre in Wauchope on Sunday, where they were told firefighters have found it hard to contain and access some fire areas.
About 1,000 firefighters are attempting to tackle the blazes in New South Wales, supported by water-bombing aircraft.
One of the casualties is the state's vulnerable koala population, whose habitat has been largely wiped out in the fires.
Firefighters are bracing for "catastrophic" fire danger on Tuesday.
Last night there were fears of a fatality at Rainbow Flat, with homes being checked by emergency services.
They have advised residents to evacuate as the fire danger has reached unprecedented levels.
Overnight a southerly change, pushed the fire in a more northerly direction towards the Gwydir Highway.
Nineteen schools on the mid-north and north coast were forced to close yesterday, and motorists were stranded as the Pacific Highway was shut down in both directions between Taree and Bulahdelah and at Port Macquarie.
Massive fires tore through several towns on Friday and Saturday.
"High temperatures, strong winds and low humidity are forecast, making conditions risky", it said.