Australian bushfires: Thousands have been forced to leave their homes

Flames are being whipped by strong winds blowing like a cyclone

Rural Fire Service volunteers and firefighters are battling blazes across the state, including Rainbow Flat, on the mid-north coast. Five people missing have been located.

The forecast for the rest of the fire season is driven by above average temperatures and below average rainfall, which have been exacerbated by the state's severe drought.

"Tuesday 12 November will be a unsafe day", it tweeted.

"With so many fires already burning, homes and lives will be at risk", the fire service said on Twitter.

On Sunday, 72 fires were burning across NSW, 36 of which were not under control.

"Catastrophic is the highest level of bush fire danger". "They've done a top job, them fellas", Russell told AFP after a crew of six firefighters brought the blaze under control.

"We're expecting very similar conditions in Western Australia over the next few days".

On Wednesday, Morrison's climate-skeptic government announced a package of low-priced loans worth around 1 billion Australian dollars (US$690 million), created to help drought-stricken farmers struggling with the latest "big dry".

He said there was an immediate disaster recovery payment available of $1000 for adults and $400 for children affected by the fire.

"A number of our own fire stations have been destroyed".

The revived brush fires - which have burned intermittently across eastern Australia for months- picked up in intensity on Friday, destroying over 100 homes in New South Wales (NSW).

"It was pretty scary", Stewart said.

One blaze cut a destructive path through this community near Taree.

Mr Clark said that around the Sydney area, they were "really concerned" about the urban fringe.

"The more forensic process of getting in and doing the detailed assessments will come over coming days". More than 150 properties have already been lost to the fires.

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said he wanted to assure those in the communities ravaged by fire, or those facing a fire threat in the future, that there was a "high level of co-ordination of response" across the state and Commonwealth governments. Earlier, there were reports of people trapped in their homes.

The RFS will also coordinate relief work with the Australian Defence Force.

NSW police said a body was found in a burnt-out home north of Taree, a town about 300 km (185 miles) north of Sydney. "I tried so many times", Harwood added.

But NSW residents haven't been the only ones impacted.

She was treated for burns before being transferred to a Sydney hospital where she later died, the RFS said on Saturday.

Vivian Chaplain, 69, died after a bushfire swept through Wytaliba.

Bushfires are common in Australia but the country has experienced a dramatic start to what scientists predict will be a tough fire season - with climate change and weather cycles contributing to the risky combination of strong winds, high temperatures and dry conditions.

They have advised residents to evacuate as the fire danger has reached unprecedented levels.

A vast bushfire that's claimed almost 20 homes in central Queensland is now bearing down on more.

People fled from it in cars and on horseback overnight after the Cobraball and Bungundarra fires joined.

In some areas, residents were stuck and told to simply "seek shelter as it is too late to leave".

This home was completely destroyed by the firestorm last night.

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk warned Queenslanders that the worst was not over.

Conditions remained unpredictable on Sunday with most residents advised it was still too risky to return home.

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.

The conditions would only worsen on Saturday, NSF Rural Fire Service commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons told ABC News.



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