Forest / Wild Fire in Australia on November 08 2019 11:39 AM (UTC).
NSW firefighters are in "uncharted territory" as more than 15 emergency level fires rage across the state with reports of people injured and trapped in their homes.On Friday evening the NSW Rural Fire Service reported 85 fires burning with 15 of them at emergency level, mostly across the north coast and northern NSW from the Blue Mountains to the Queensland border.NSW Rural Fire Service Commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons said he had previously only seen six to eight emergency-level blazes at once, meaning the current situation is "unprecedented". Conditions are expected to worsen on Friday evening."Unfortunately we are in uncharted territory this afternoon - we've never seen this many fires concurrently at emergency warning level," he said."It's a very dynamic, it's a very volatile and it's a very dangerous set of circumstances that we're experiencing."There have been multiple reports of people trapped in property with at least two homes already destroyed and fears of many more to come.Commissioner Fitzsimmons said there were reports of "multiple community areas being impacted, loss, damage and destruction". There were also some early reports of injuries yet to be confirmed, and some minor injuries to firefighters.More than 1000 firefighters and 70 aircraft had been deployed "to save as many people as possible"."Today has been a difficult and dangerous day. 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," the Rural Fire Service said at 7:15pm on Friday.The Pacific Highway has been shut down between Taree and Bulahdelah and Port Macquarie between the Oxley Highway and Hastings River Drive as a result of the fires. The New England Highway has also been closed between Glen Innes and Tenterfield.The NSW RFS has received multiple reports of people being trapped in their homes, with crews unable to reach them due to the ferocity of the flames.One resident in the small town of Bobin, near Taree, posted on social media that the school was on fire and at least one resident was trapped. There are potential fatalities at nearby Rainbow Flat, according to Seven News.
"We are going into a phase where the winds are going to be somewhat relentless into the evening," the commissioner said in an online video.More than 50 bushfires were also burning across Queensland on Friday afternoon at one point with residents warned to grab their pets and take cover.Police declared an emergency at Cooroibah and evacuated part of it as a fire threatened homes.Noosa Mayor Tony Wellington said the situation was "very volatile" early on Friday night.The fast-moving fire was keeping emergency services on their toes as the winds were changing direction, he said."It's going to be a long night, it's going to be a distressing night," Mr Wellington said. "My sympathies go out to everyone."Noosa Pet Resort proprietor Pat Cutting had 40 dogs, six cats and her 80-year-old mother to evacuate."At the moment we're hosing everything and we're ready to get all the animals out of here," she told AAP as she got ready to go."The rural fire brigade is on the corner. If they come down the driveway it'll be 'yep, let's go'."People in the path of a blaze at Tarome, in the Scenic Rim area, also left, some to nearby Aratula, after being warned they were in danger.People who are trapped are being advised to stay inside and take cover until the fire front passes.Some of the fires are so intense they are creating their own weather conditions and causing "pyrocumulous" clouds to develop. These types of clouds can even create their own thunderstorms and result in dry lightning.RFS said these are "extremely dangerous" and warned people not to be caught out in the open.MidCoast Council mayor David West, who lives in Brimbin, said that in his 73 years he had never seen anything like the fire in his area."I'm looking at a sky that's screaming danger, that's saying 'get out of my way, I'm going to kill you'," he told AAP on Friday night."I know that sounds melodramatic but it's not. This is a fire that's devouring everything in its path."From my personal perspective, it's horrifying ... I've never felt a sense of anguish that I do now, the fear for my community."Mr West said a fire near Forster threatened a council building on Thursday night."It was literally a wall of yellow, horrible, beastly, tormenting flames," the mayor said."It was a horrendous beast."There were 15 emergency warnings current after 9pm (AEDT) including at: Hillville, Long Flat, Crowdy Bay National Park, Shannon Vale, Tapin Tops National Park, Willi Willi, Tyringham, Clouds Creek State Forest, Wandsworth, Carrai Creek, Stockyard Flat and Torrington.It's thought two homes were damaged or destroyed in the fire burning at Stockyard Flat near Walcha.A bushfire covering more than 4300 hectares is burning out of control on Hillville Rd at Hillville, near Taree, and in the Talawahl.People in the areas of Torrington, Stannum, Silent Grove, Wolfram Hill, Tungsten, Maids Valley and Mole River are being urged to seek shelter as the fire approaches and follow their bushfire plans.There is also an emergency warning in place for a fire at Willi Willi National Park near Kempsey, which has burnt more than 4400 hectares.People in the area of Toorumbee Road have been told its "too late to leave" and to seek shelter in a solid structure.The fire at Crowdy Bay National Park area has burnt more than 6500 hectares and is spreading towards the Harrington area. Firefighters and aircraft are working to protect homes from the blaze.A Forster resident told news.com.au that a fire had been burning for a few days nearby but conditions became a lot worse yesterday causing it to flare up."It has truly been so wild," she said. "I never thought it would happen somewhere so suburban."Commissioner Fitzsimmons said bush and grassfires are currently burning through about 370,000 hectares of land across NSW - more than the entire land area burnt last year.The fire danger should lessen over the weekend, although threat levels are forecast to rise again on Tuesday or Wednesday next week."Weather conditions are beginning to ease. Despite this, there are still many hours of difficult firefighting ahead for our crews," the NSW RFS said.Bureau of Meteorology duty forecaster Rose Barr said there should be a brief reprieve in fire weather conditions as temperatures cool over the weekend."(But) from Monday conditions will warm up again and temperatures will heat up significantly," she told AAP.A man, aged in his 50s, suffered serious burns to his legs and hands while trying to defend his rural property in Yarrowitch, east of Walcha, on Thursday."We need people to be absolutely prepared - we need them to be monitoring local radio, the (RFS) website," Commissioner Fitzsimmons said.