A man has died and hundreds of properties are feared destroyed after bushfires raged overnight in south-eastern Australia. The development followed a terrible of extreme heat and dangerous conditions.
The 47-year-old man died of a cardiac arrest on Saturday night. He was helping defend a friend’s rural property in Batlow, south-west Canberra, New South Wales (NSW) Police said Sunday morning.
The latest death brings the national death toll to 24 since the devastating bushfire season started early in September. All six of Australia’s states and one territory have been affected and more than 5 million hectares of land destroyed. The fire-ravaged south-eastern states of New South Wales, Victoria andc suffered through the predicted extreme weather conditions on Saturday; with temperatures hitting 48 degrees Celsius in parts of Sydney and wind gusts reaching 80 kilometres per hour.
Indeed, the full extent of the damage overnight is unknown. However, authorities have said several hundred properties may have been destroyed and tens of thousands of hectares of land burned.
Power was still out in a lot of areas across New South Wales on Sunday morning; where some 170 bushfires are burning, with two at emergency warning level.
“It was an awful day yesterday,” New South Wales Rural Fire Service Commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons told reporters on Sunday.
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“We are getting reports that the property losses, the damage and destruction; is likely to be numbering in the hundreds as a result of yesterday’s fire activity and fire spread.”
Although the weather eased on Sunday, conditions remained “volatile” at a number of fire grounds, Fitzsimmons added.
New South Wales premier Gladys Berejiklian reflected on the Saturday’s extreme condition. She told reporters in Sydney that; “the weather activity we’re seeing, the extent and spread of the fires, the speed at which they’re going; the way they are attacking communities that have never seen fire, is unprecedented.”
“We can’t pretend this is something we have experienced before. It’s not,” she said at the press conference on Sunday.
In Victoria, where authorities are continuing to conduct mass evacuations with the help of the military; six people remained missing on Sunday as 50 blazes continued to ravage the state’s east.
Cooler weather and light rain forecast for Sunday is hoped to bring some respite to Victoria; where nearly a million hectares of land are burning. About 110 properties were confirmed destroyed in the state this week.