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Desperate fight to bring NSW and Queensland bushfires under control before ‘dangerous’ Tuesday

Firefighters are desperately trying to control devastating bushfires across NSW before a ‘dangerous day’ of weather forecast for Tuesday with the Rural Fire Service warning ‘lives will be at risk’.

As the state begins to count the devastating cost of the fires, three people have been confirmed dead and there are fears that number could rise, with five people reported missing.

Conditions eased on Sunday, and firefighters are now desperately trying to control the bushfires, as the RFS says Tuesday will likely see widespread severe and extreme fire danger from the Queensland border to the south coast and across the central west.

‘Tuesday 12 November will be a dangerous day,’ it tweeted.

‘With so many fires already burning, homes and lives will be at risk.’

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

Eleven fires remain at a watch and act level.

RFS Inspector Ben Shepherd says fire crews are doing all they can to control blazes already burning before Tuesday.

As dozens of firefighter battled blazes near Taree, the body of a woman was found on a property in a nearby township

LATEST ON THE BUSHFIRES IN NSW AND QUEENSLAND

NSW:

* Three people dead, five people missing

* Up to 30 people injured

* At least 150 homes destroyed, the figure is expected to rise

* Seventy-two fires burning across the state, 36 not under control, 11 fires listed as watch and act

* Rural Fire Service has issued a warning ahead of conditions worsening on Tuesday, saying it will be a ‘dangerous day’ and ‘homes and lives will be at risk’

* Firefighters are currently using favourable conditions to try and control the fires already burning

QLD:

* Fifty-five bushfires burning with emergency warnings continuing at Cooroibah and Ringtail Creek, north of Noosa on the Sunshine Coast

* Since it began the Cooroibah fire has also raged through Tewantin, Noosa Banks and Noosa North Shore

* Up to 9000 people evacuated due to the Cooroibah fire

* Some residents of Tewantin were allowed home on Saturday

* One home lost at Cooroibah

* One firefighter suffered a broken leg in the Cooroibah blaze

* State of fire emergency declared across 42 local government areas

* Major fires remain at Cobraball and Bungundarra., southwest of Yeppoon.

* Warnings downgraded to watch and act at former major fires at Tarome in the Scenic Rim and the Thornton fire in the Lockyer Valley.

* Weather conditions causing severe fire danger across the state’s southeast corner have moved north into central Queensland

Australian Associated Press 

‘We are looking down the barrel of a busy few days and potentially a dangerous day come Tuesday,’ he told Seven News on Sunday.

‘We’re trying to get as many of these fires under control before the onset of that weather on Tuesday, but look we won’t have these fires under control by that stage we’ll have to concentrate where it is burning close to residential areas.’

In the meantime RFS Commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons says assessment teams are bracing themselves for ‘considerable losses’.

‘There are communities and fire grounds where we are expecting to tally up considerable losses of homes and other properties,’ he said.

Grandmother of six Vivian Chaplain, 69, died trying to protect her home and animals near Wytaliba

Grandmother of six Vivian Chaplain, 69, died trying to protect her home and animals near Wytaliba

‘A number of our own fire stations have been destroyed.’

At least 150 homes have been destroyed by the fires although this number is likely to climb as detailed assessments begin.

One woman killed on the New South Wales mid north coast has been remembered by neighbours as a lover of animals and the land. 

Dairy cattle farmer Julie Fletcher had her car packed with possessions, ready to evacuate her Johns River property on Friday night, but didn’t make it out in time.

Her body was discovered in a burnt-out building on Saturday afternoon after fires swept through the tiny township near Taree.

Ms Fletcher, 63, was the third person confirmed dead in the raging bushfires that has caused widespread devastation on the New South Wales north coast.  

Grandmother of six Vivian Chaplain also died while trying to save her Wytaliba property near Glen Innes while the body of another local, George Nole, was found in a burnt-out car on Saturday morning.

A post-mortem examination will be conducted to confirm Ms Fletcher’s cause of death before police prepare a report for the coroner. 

On Sunday morning, there were 72 fires burning across New South Wales, 36 not under control and 11 fires listed as watch and act.

At least 150 homes have been destroyed across the state and up to 30 people have been injured. 

The devastating bushfires on the NSW mid north coast have tragically claimed the lives of two women and a man so far

The devastating bushfires on the NSW mid north coast have tragically claimed the lives of two women and a man so far

The body of Julie Fletcher was found in a burnt out building on her Wharf Road property near the town of Johns River

The body of Julie Fletcher was found in a burnt out building on her Wharf Road property near the town of Johns River

In Queensland, 55 fires were burning on Sunday morning, including the huge fire at Cooroibah, north of Noosa, where an emergency zone remains.

One house has been lost at Cooroibah on the Sunshine Coast along with three sheds, cars and wildlife.

Multiple homes were also reportedly lost overnight north of Rockhampton when a fire tore through Cobraball and nearby Bungundarra.

Thousands have people have been evacuated from the paths of the fires burning in Queensland. Some estimates say up to 9000 were evacuated from suburbs at the northern end of Noosa due to the Cooroibah fire.

A firefighter suffered a broken leg but no lives have been lost or other injuries reported. 

The winds and hot and dry conditions that have stoked blazes are set to continue on Sunday, ease on Monday, and worsen on Tuesday, challenging crews and people battling to save their homes. 

Friend and neighbour of Ms Fletcher, Diny Khan, 63, received a text message from the victim on Friday night to say she was putting her possessions in her car and getting ready to go.

She described her neighbour as an animal lover who loved the Angus cattle she raised so much the cows were never sold them to slaughter and died ‘old and happy’.

At least 150 homes have been lost in the NSW bushfires, including this one in Old Bar on the NSW mid north coast

At least 150 homes have been lost in the NSW bushfires, including this one in Old Bar on the NSW mid north coast

NSW RFS have warned Tuesday will be a 'dangerous day' with widespread areas facing 'severe and extreme fire danger'

NSW RFS have warned Tuesday will be a ‘dangerous day’ with widespread areas facing ‘severe and extreme fire danger’

‘She was just the most incredibly kind and thoughtful lady – what a horrible way to go,’ Ms Khan told the Daily Telegraph.

Neighbour of 10 years Barry Stewart said Ms Fletcher loved the land and the river.

‘She was outgoing, a top community person and always willing to lend a hand,’ he said.

He returned to his property on Saturday morning to find his home unscathed, apart from a few charred fences. 

The latest confirmed fatality comes after grandmother-of-six Vivian Chaplain also lost her life as more than 90 bushfires rage across New South Wales and Queensland, destroying 150 homes and burning whole towns. 

Ms Chaplain, 69, died trying to protect her home and animals near Wytaliba, northwest of Coffs Harbour.

She was found about 7pm on Friday after a blaze ripped through her property near Glen Innes, unconscious and suffering horrific burns to 40-50 per cent of her body.

Firefighters and paramedics gave her first aid and CPR for hours at the burned-out property until she could be rushed to hospital, but she died on Saturday morning. 

Ms Chaplain became trapped when her property was cut off and the wooden bridge into her area burned and collapsed. Her family desperately tried to reach her but couldn’t get through.

‘Our shed paddock is on fire Viv is alone can some one help, anyone please… boys are on the way down if they can get through,’ her daughter-in-law Chrystal Harwood said in a desperate plea on Facebook on Friday.

‘The RFS can’t get to her they are trying… the road down is a tunnel of fire.’ 

VICTIMS OF THE NSW BUSHFIRES

Grandmother of six Vivian Chaplain, 69, died trying to protect her home and animals near Wytaliba, northwest of Coffs Harbour.

She was found about 7pm on Friday after a blaze ripped through her property near Glen Innes, unconscious and suffering horrific burns to 40-50 per cent of her body.

She was rushed to hospital where she died on Saturday morning.  

Another local, George Nole, was found in a burnt-out car on Saturday morning.

Dairy cattle farmer Julie Fletcher had her car packed with possessions, ready to evacuate her Johns River property on Friday night but didn’t make it out in time.

Her body was discovered in a burnt-out building on Saturday afternoon after fires swept through the tiny township near Taree.

At least 100 homes have been destroyed and a body has been found in a burnt-out car as more than a dozen bushfires rage across New South Wales (pictured bushfire near Taree on state's mid-north coast)

At least 100 homes have been destroyed and a body has been found in a burnt-out car as more than a dozen bushfires rage across New South Wales (pictured bushfire near Taree on state’s mid-north coast)

More than 30 people have been injured in the fires. Pictured are the remains of a boarding kennel in Taree on Saturday

More than 30 people have been injured in the fires. Pictured are the remains of a boarding kennel in Taree on Saturday

NSW RFS Commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons said of the more than 30 injuries, 19 were to firefighters and 16 to members of the public (remains of the boarding kennels at Taree pictured)

NSW RFS Commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons said of the more than 30 injuries, 19 were to firefighters and 16 to members of the public (remains of the boarding kennels at Taree pictured)

The remains of a B Double trailer were left smouldering on the Pacific Highway south of Taree after bushfires swept through

The remains of a B Double trailer were left smouldering on the Pacific Highway south of Taree after bushfires swept through

A charred tree lay across the Pacific Highway on Saturday morning as the burnt-out bush smoldered by the roadside

A charred tree lay across the Pacific Highway on Saturday morning as the burnt-out bush smoldered by the roadside

Later Ms Harwood said Ms Chaplain was found, but badly burned, and on Saturday morning she broke the sad news that she had died in hospital.

‘We just felt so helpless trying to get to her. I was the last person to speed to her she was in a panic,’ she told Nine news. 

‘She was in an absolutely panic. She said, ‘there’s fire everywhere, I need the boys here now.’

‘Before I even got to tell her to just get out, she’d hung up on me. I couldn’t get back to her. I tried so many times.

Ms Harwood remembered her mother-in-law as an ‘amazing, strong loving woman.’

‘The loss of her has devastated our family. There was nothing we could do. She was stuck and we couldn’t get to her,’ Ms Harwood said.

A firefighter discovered the body of fellow Wytaliba local George Nole in a burnt-out car on Old Grafton Road in Diehard on Saturday morning at the Kangawalla fire near Glen Innes. 

‘This is devastating, George was such a beautiful man. Such a tragedy,’ another local wrote. 

Sharon Ashby (right), her son Nicholas and their two dogs Dexter and Cinnamon had to flee their Old Bar home

Sharon Ashby (right), her son Nicholas and their two dogs Dexter and Cinnamon had to flee their Old Bar home

A water bombing plane drops fire retardant on a fire in Harrington at the mouth of the Manning River on NSW north coast

A water bombing plane drops fire retardant on a fire in Harrington at the mouth of the Manning River on NSW north coast

NSW Rural Fire Service Commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons warned that the death toll was likely to climb and that the dire bushfire situation was far from over, with temperatures forecast to soar into the high 30s on Tuesday.

‘We are going to be going into another bad weather day on Tuesday – a weather day that will be somewhat akin to what we saw [on Friday],’ Comm. Fitzsimmons said.

‘Clearly, given the enormity of the occasion, and the events of yesterday and already some of the compelling information that’s coming from these fire grounds, we need to be attuned to the fact that we could see more casualty and more loss.’

NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian warned the state was ‘not through the worst’ of the devastating bushfires and that with seven people unaccounted for the could be more deaths.

‘There are at least seven people unaccounted for and I’m sorry to say that number can increase during the day,’ she said. 

‘Our thoughts and prayers of course go to the families and loved ones of those two deceased persons.’

Premier Berejiklian praised the work of volunteer firefighters risking their lives to battle the out-of-control blazes, and thanked other states for sending resources to help.

Harrowing footage obtained by Seven News  has emerged shows a man helplessly watching in despair as his home Rainbow Flat near Taree was gutted by a raging bushfire.

The devastated occupant can do nothing but watch on as his home is engulfed by flames and smoke before parts of the roof collapse.

Despite firefighters quickly arriving on scene to battle the blaze, their desperate attempts to save the home from extensive damage are in vain.

More than 150 homes in NSW have been lost so far. 

The aftermath of a fire that ripped across a highway in rural NSW, destroying a truck its driver was forced to abandon

The aftermath of a fire that ripped across a highway in rural NSW, destroying a truck its driver was forced to abandon

Trucks gathered at Taree Service Centre as smoke billows from a bushfire at Taree on Friday

Trucks gathered at Taree Service Centre as smoke billows from a bushfire at Taree on Friday

Massive clouds of billowing smoke are visible from thousands of metres in the air where this plane was flying overhead on Saturday

Massive clouds of billowing smoke are visible from thousands of metres in the air where this plane was flying overhead on Saturday

Reddestone RFS was one of three trucks to make it into the Wytaliba community on Friday before the bridge burned

Reddestone RFS was one of three trucks to make it into the Wytaliba community on Friday before the bridge burned

Emergency Services Minister David Elliott said there was ‘no sugar-coating’ that the state was going to have a ‘bad week’ with bushfires, but that it had the tools and people to confront the threat.

‘Some of [the volunteer firefighters] are actually having their own homes at risk at the moment,’ he said.

‘They have walked away from protecting their own homes to protect the homes of those that they may not even know.’

Prime Minister Scott Morrison promised $1,000 for every person affected by the fire and $400 per child.

‘Our main thoughts and prayers are with those that have been so directly and horribly impacted by these fires,’ he said on Saturday afternoon.

‘Those who have lost loved ones and those who will loan they have lost loved ones in the not too distant future. Those who have lost homes, those who are sitting in the smaller ruins of properties that once stood, they are the ones that Australians will be thinking of today. 

‘I want them to be assured of the kindness, love and support of their fellow Australians and that the government’s will be doing anything they can, not just to relieve them from this immediate situation but to be there and the recovery in the weeks and months and years ahead. 

Mr Morrison also noted that Western Australia was on high alert for bushfires as the weather conditions there meant one could break out and quickly spread at any time.  

This satellite image from Saturday shows a build up of smoke and heat over the NSW mid north coast devastated by bushfires

This satellite image from Saturday shows a build up of smoke and heat over the NSW mid north coast devastated by bushfires

Some volunteer firefighters left their own homes, which were also under threat from the fires, to protect those of complete strangers

Some volunteer firefighters left their own homes, which were also under threat from the fires, to protect those of complete strangers

Firefighters work to contain a bushfire along Old Bar road in Old Bar, NSW, on Saturday - one of 70 fires still burning

Firefighters work to contain a bushfire along Old Bar road in Old Bar, NSW, on Saturday – one of 70 fires still burning

Embers from a tree are seen burning as the fires rage on throughout NSW's coastal towns

Embers from a tree are seen burning as the fires rage on throughout NSW’s coastal towns

Hot windy conditions have seen bushfires wreak havoc throughout the state (pictured fire in Woodford in the Blue Mountains, NSW)

Hot windy conditions have seen bushfires wreak havoc throughout the state (pictured fire in Woodford in the Blue Mountains, NSW)

A terrifying audio recording captured the moment five NSW RFS volunteers were trapped by three fire fronts in the Taree region of the state’s mid-north coast. 

‘We have been trapped by a falling tree, over,’ the firefighters could be heard saying over the service’s emergency radio before narrowly escaping the advancing flames by driving over the tree.  

Commissioner Fitzsimmons said the situation was going to get worse because weather ideal for bushfires was forecast over the next week.

He also warned that the drought across much of NSW, and expected weather in coming months, meant the state was looking at a catastrophic fire season. 

‘Not only is it about next week, but, unfortunately, the forecast for the balance of the season continues to be driven by above-normal temperatures, below-average rainfall, to dominate over the coming months,’ he said.

‘If you put that across this extremely drought-stricken landscape, where you have no moisture in the ground… a flammability of the fuel which is seeing extraordinary fire behaviour, fire spreading and burning very intensely, very aggressively… with spot fire activity doubling or tripling what would normally be expected in the conditions that we have been experiencing.

Residents evacuate themselves and their animals to a park in Old Bar as the fire moves in on the small town

Residents evacuate themselves and their animals to a park in Old Bar as the fire moves in on the small town

LPG cylinders are seen after being moved away from a service station by firefighters along Old Bar road in Old Bar, NSW

LPG cylinders are seen after being moved away from a service station by firefighters along Old Bar road in Old Bar, NSW

Massive plumes of smoke are visible from space and some of the smoke has made it all the way to New Zealand

Massive plumes of smoke are visible from space and some of the smoke has made it all the way to New Zealand

Firefighters work to save a house as they contain a bushfire along Old Bar road in Old Bar, NSW

Firefighters work to save a house as they contain a bushfire along Old Bar road in Old Bar, NSW

A water bombing helicopter attacks a bushfire near houses along Old Bar road in Old Bar, NSW

A water bombing helicopter attacks a bushfire near houses along Old Bar road in Old Bar, NSW

‘The flammability, the lack of moisture in the vegetation, is making it so susceptible to ignition, that many embers are leading well ahead of the main fire front, taking hold, starting fires, and rapidly accelerating the movement of fire across the landscape and into different communities.

‘The risk is real, the risk is here, the consequences are absolutely apparent and evident over the last few weeks and particularly highlighted in the last 24 hours. 

‘We have got the worst of our fire season still ahead of us. We’re not even in summer yet.’  

The fires have been burning through various NSW towns on Friday night with the blaze expected to last for hours to come

The fires have been burning through various NSW towns on Friday night with the blaze expected to last for hours to come

Bushfires are burning close to homes in Woodford (pictured) on Friday night with fires expected to continue into the night

Bushfires are burning close to homes in Woodford (pictured) on Friday night with fires expected to continue into the night 

The NSW Rural Fire Service issued said 12 'emergency warnings' (pictured in red) were still in place for blazes from the Blue Mountains to the Queensland border

The NSW Rural Fire Service issued said 12 ’emergency warnings’ (pictured in red) were still in place for blazes from the Blue Mountains to the Queensland border 

Crews from the NSW RFS are conducting property protection as the blaze continues to burn through houses on Railway Parade in Woodford, NSW (pictured)

Crews from the NSW RFS are conducting property protection as the blaze continues to burn through houses on Railway Parade in Woodford, NSW (pictured)

Commissioner Fitzsimmons said of the more than 30 injuries, 19 were to firefighters and 16 to members of the public. 

He said firefighters were dealing with a very dynamic, volatile and dangerous set of circumstances.

‘We are in uncharted territory… we’ve never seen this many fires concurrently at emergency warning level,’ he said.  

Carol Sparks, mayor of Glen Innes, where both victims were killed, lost her own home and described the devastation the town went through so soon after other bushfires hit the area. 

Smoke from the raging bushfires was visible as far away as Tuncurry, on the NSW Mid North Coast on Saturday

Smoke from the raging bushfires was visible as far away as Tuncurry, on the NSW Mid North Coast on Saturday

The billowing smoke was an eerie contrast to the crystal blue water and otherwise cloudless sky

The billowing smoke was an eerie contrast to the crystal blue water and otherwise cloudless sky

Fire chiefs warned the situation was going to get worse because weather ideal for bushfires was forecast over the next week

Fire chiefs warned the situation was going to get worse because weather ideal for bushfires was forecast over the next week

A visitor to the Mt Coottha lookout is seen as smoke haze as a result of bushfires blankets central Brisbane

A visitor to the Mt Coottha lookout is seen as smoke haze as a result of bushfires blankets central Brisbane

NSW Rural Fire Service personnel conduct property protection as a bushfire burns in Woodford

NSW Rural Fire Service personnel conduct property protection as a bushfire burns in Woodford

A firefighter is seen on the job as the RFS conduct property protection at Woodford, as bushfires ravage the state

A firefighter is seen on the job as the RFS conduct property protection at Woodford, as bushfires ravage the state

A resident hoses smouldering logs at property in Woodford, where hot, windy conditions have wreaked havoc

A resident hoses smouldering logs at property in Woodford, where hot, windy conditions have wreaked havoc

There are currently 15 fires burning at emergency levels across NSW as firefighters work hard to control the blaze

There are currently 15 fires burning at emergency levels across NSW as firefighters work hard to control the blaze

A school in Bobin has reportedly been destroyed with as many as 20 houses as more than 1000 firefighters try to battle the blazes throughout NSW

A school in Bobin has reportedly been destroyed with as many as 20 houses as more than 1000 firefighters try to battle the blazes throughout NSW

‘The school was lost, [houses] were burnt, people were burnt, lives were lost.People battled to save their houses and then had to walk out because their cars had blown up, it was just horrific,’ she told the ABC. 

The fire in Glen Innes is so bad that 164 minimum-security inmates had to be evacuated from the local jail to Grafton.

‘Staff from Glen Innes, Grafton and our Security Operations Group did an outstanding job under such circumstances to ensure everyone’s safety,’ NSW Corrective Services Commissioner Peter Severin said. 

Grafton prisoners stayed locked in their cells and the evacuated Glen Innes inmates were housed in other parts of the jail.

Firefighters and trucks are seen during conduct property protection, as fires ravage New South Wales

Firefighters and trucks are seen during conduct property protection, as fires ravage New South Wales 

A firefighter from the RFS runs down the road during bushfires in NSW. A firetruck is seen in the background

A firefighter from the RFS runs down the road during bushfires in NSW. A firetruck is seen in the background

Residents watch on as an Aircrane water bombing helicopter flies by their property in Harrington

Residents watch on as an Aircrane water bombing helicopter flies by their property in Harrington

The sun is seen through heavy smoke as a bushfire burns in Woodford on Friday afternoon

The sun is seen through heavy smoke as a bushfire burns in Woodford on Friday afternoon 

A water tanker airplane drops fire retardant on a bushfire in Harrington on Friday

A water tanker airplane drops fire retardant on a bushfire in Harrington on Friday 

More than 90 fires were burning on Friday evening, with the NSW Rural Fire Service issuing 16 'emergency warnings' for blazes from the Blue Mountains to the Queensland border

More than 90 fires were burning on Friday evening, with the NSW Rural Fire Service issuing 16 ’emergency warnings’ for blazes from the Blue Mountains to the Queensland border 

Smoke from the fires raging across the New South Wales mid-north coast and up towards the Queensland border could be seen from space

Smoke from the fires raging across the New South Wales mid-north coast and up towards the Queensland border could be seen from space

A shocking photo showed the streets of Grafton clouded in a thick red haze as more than a dozen fires rage across the state

A shocking photo showed the streets of Grafton clouded in a thick red haze as more than a dozen fires rage across the state

Out of control flames were snapped from a nearby residential area in Harrington

Out of control flames were snapped from a nearby residential area in Harrington 



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