Aussie firefighters face record number of uncontrolled blazes

A water bombing helicopter flies over a bushfire as residents look on in Forster New South Wales Australia on Nov 7 2019

Raging bushfires in eastern Australia block main highway

The Australian state of New South Wales is in the grip of an unprecedented bush-fire crisis, with nearly fifty fires still out of control on Friday night despite the efforts of 1,200 firefighters and 70 fire-fighting planes. "If you are near these fires, your life is at risk and you need to take action to protect your life", NSW Rural Fire service said.

There are also reports of people being unable to get out of their houses and rescuers being unable to reach them because of the sheer ferocity of the fires.

Rural Fire Service Commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons said: "We are in uncharted territory".

Australian authorities describe it as an "unprecedented" number of emergency-level fires.

The fact the blazes were spread along a roughly 1,000-kilometre (620-mile) stretch of the seaboard left emergency services struggling to cope, even with the help of around 70 aircraft.

The video shows members of the Warringah headquarters of the New South Wales Fire Service driving through an intense bushfire near Rainbow Flat, a small town 100 km south of Port Macquarie.

The fires - many in drought-affected areas - were being exacerbated by gusty winds and up to 35C heat.

At least five schools in NSW have closed due to the flames, and major roads and highways have been forced to shut.

There have been reports of local communities residing near the fires sustaining injuries and their properties being damaged.

Firefighters battled hot and dry winds, with drought conditions contributing to the amount of fuel available for the fires to consume.

Temperatures peaked at 49.3C at Marble Bar in Western Australia on January 26, 2019.

Around a hundred blazes pockmarked the New South Wales and Queensland countryside, around 17 of them remained unsafe and uncontained late Friday.

Spring in Australia lasts from September to November, with summer taking place from December to February.

However, experts estimated on Friday that almost half the koalas living on a coastal reserve in New South Wales have been wiped out, with the rest of the colony of originally 500 to 600 animals still under threat.

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