At Least Three People Missing as Dozens of Wildfires Burn Across Eastern Australia

Jan Wesner Childs
Published: November 8, 2019

At least three people were missing, more than 30 injured and 100 homes destroyed as a wave of wildfires swept across eastern Australia.

More than 75 wildfires were burning as of early Saturday morning local time in New South Wales, according to the New South Wales Rural Fire Service. Less than half of them had been contained. Several fires were also burning in Queensland, where at least one area was under an evacuation order, the Guardian reported.

There were also multiple reports of people trapped in their homes in several locations because fire crews could not reach them due to the intensity of the fires, according to the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.

Dry conditions and strong winds were fueling the blazes, the fire service said.

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"We have never seen this many fires concurrently at emergency warning level," NSW Fire Commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons said, according to the Guardian. "We are in uncharted territory."

The fire service posted dramatic video on Thursday showing first responders making their way through the flames near Taree, about four hours north of Sydney.

A photo posted to Facebook showed flames close to a populated area.

While the threat appeared to be easing on Friday, authorities warned residents in affected areas to remain vigilant.

"We are still seeing erratic and dangerous fire behaviour across the remainder of fire grounds, which continues to pose a threat to homes," the fire service tweeted.

One local official described the scene to the ABC.

"I'm looking out of my office window and all I see is what I'm assuming people in London saw during the Second World War – it's a horrible, horrible sight," Mid-Coast Council Mayor David West said.

Resident Jodie Sutor told the network that flames from a fire at Wardell, south of Ballina, reached her back fence and then jumped to her neighbor's roof.

"She started screaming 'It's on the roof,' so we ran out and that's when I noticed small spots out the front," Sutor said. "All out the backyard is burnt. Trees out the back are all up in flames. It's just so quick."

The Weather Company’s primary journalistic mission is to report on breaking weather news, the environment and the importance of science to our lives. This story does not necessarily represent the position of our parent company, IBM.


The Weather Company’s primary journalistic mission is to report on breaking weather news, the environment and the importance of science to our lives. This story does not necessarily represent the position of our parent company, IBM.