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Scott Morrison comforts a bushfire survivor, 85, as he seeks shelter at a Taree evacuation centre

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has comforted a devastated 85-year-old bushfire survivor in northern New South Wales, who says he has lost everything. 

Mr Morrison visited an evacuation centre in Taree, about 350km north of Sydney, on Sunday as firefighters continue to battle dozens of out-of-control blazes across the state. 

Firefighters are desperately trying to control devastating bushfires across NSW before a ‘dangerous day’ of weather forecast for Tuesday. 

The prime minister offered his support to Owen Whalan, who lost his property in Koorainghat, about 20km south of Taree. 

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison comforts 85-year-old resident Owen Whalan at an evacauation centre in Taree

The prime minister sought to support resident Owen Whalan who lost his Koorainghat property

The prime minister sought to support resident Owen Whalan who lost his Koorainghat property

Australia's Prime Minister Scott Morrison talks to locals during a visit to Club Taree Evacuation Centre

Australia’s Prime Minister Scott Morrison talks to locals during a visit to Club Taree Evacuation Centre

Firefighters are desperately trying to control devastating bushfires across NSW before a 'dangerous day' of weather forecast for Tuesday

Firefighters are desperately trying to control devastating bushfires across NSW before a ‘dangerous day’ of weather forecast for Tuesday

Mr Morrison can be seen with his arm around the 85-year-old, who broke down in tears at the evacuation centre. 

Images show the prime minister talking softly to Mr Whalan as with his head rested against him as he clutches his arm. 

Mr Morrison has warned Australians facing and fighting bushfires that even more difficult days could be ahead.

The prime minister and NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian learnt first hand the difficulties firefighters are facing trying to tackle the raging fires during a visit to the north of the state.

‘We’re not out of this yet,’ Mr Morrison told reporters at the evacuation centre in Taree on Sunday.

‘There is a long way to go and Tuesday is looking more difficult.’

The greater Sydney region will be under ‘catastrophic’ fire danger on Tuesday for the first time since new fire ratings were introduced a decade ago. 

Although conditions eased across the state on Sunday, by late afternoon two emergency warnings were issued for fires in the northeast and mid-north coast. 

A fire at Bills Crossing, north of Taree has already burned through almost 12,000 hectares, with the Rural Fire Service warning people in the Johns River area to seek shelter as the blaze approaches.

The other warning was issued for an out-of-control fire in the Mt Nardi National Park, where people are advised that leaving early is their safest option.

Mr Morrison visited an evacuation centre in Taree, about 350km north of Sydney, on Sunday as firefighters try to contain dozens of out-of-control blazes

Mr Morrison visited an evacuation centre in Taree, about 350km north of Sydney, on Sunday as firefighters try to contain dozens of out-of-control blazes

Prime Minister Scott Morrison and NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian are briefed on the fires at Mid North Coast Fire Control Centre in Wauchope

Prime Minister Scott Morrison and NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian are briefed on the fires at Mid North Coast Fire Control Centre in Wauchope

The RFS says ‘catastrophic’ fire danger is forecast for the greater Sydney and greater Hunter regions – including the Blue Mountains and the Central Coast – for Tuesday due to worsening conditions.

‘High temperatures, strong winds and low humidity are forecast, making conditions dangerous,’ the agency said in a statement on Sunday.

‘Catastrophic is the highest level of bush fire danger. Homes are not designed to withstand a fire under these conditions.’

‘If a fire starts and takes hold during catastrophic fire danger conditions, lives and homes will be at risk.’

It is the first time since new fire danger ratings were introduced in 2009 that catastrophic fire danger has been forecast for Sydney.

More than 40 schools in NSW will also be closed on Monday due to the impact of the fires currently burning in the state’s north. 

Large areas of the state are also predicted to see severe and extreme fire danger from the Queensland border to the south coast and across the central west.

The greater Sydney region will be under 'catastrophic' fire danger on Tuesday

The greater Sydney region will be under ‘catastrophic’ fire danger on Tuesday 

Mr Morrison has warned Australians facing and fighting bushfires that even more difficult days could be ahead

Mr Morrison has warned Australians facing and fighting bushfires that even more difficult days could be ahead

The prime minister and NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian learnt first hand the difficulties firefighters are facing trying to tackle the raging fires

The prime minister and NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian learnt first hand the difficulties firefighters are facing trying to tackle the raging fires

A statewide total fire ban has been issued for Monday and Tuesday.

RFS spokesman Greg Allan said a lot of the areas facing extreme fire danger risk on Tuesday have higher populations than the areas that have suffered fires so far.

He urged people to monitor conditions over the next two days and use the time to get ready and know what they will do if fire threatens.

‘You need to take responsibility for your own safety,’ he told AAP.

RFS Commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons said as winds increased throughout the day firefighters were starting to see an increase in fire activity.

‘There is every likelihood as the afternoon rolls on, we’re likely to see fires increasing to the emergency warning alert,’ he told reporters in Taree.

Mr Fitzsimmons said fire crews are doing all they can to control blazes already burning before Tuesday.

Mr Morrison can be seen with his arm around the 85-year-old, who broke down in tears at the evacuation centre

Mr Morrison can be seen with his arm around the 85-year-old, who broke down in tears at the evacuation centre

Fire Storm from a wind change overruns fire fighters in South Taree Bush Fire emergency on the east coast of Australia

Fire Storm from a wind change overruns fire fighters in South Taree Bush Fire emergency on the east coast of Australia

‘The weather conditions will be worse than what we experienced … only a few days ago, not only will they be worse, they’ll be concentrated much further than just the northeastern area of NSW.’

NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian visited devastated bushfire communities on Sunday, telling reporters people were in a ‘traumatised’ state.

‘What really hit me today is even though some people know that their homes are OK they are still extremely traumatised by what they have experienced,’ she said.

The premier said the federal and state governments had already moved to put disaster relief arrangements in place.

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

Three people have died and 150 homes have been lost in the bushfires in NSW, while firefighters are also battling fires in Queensland and Western Australia.

Despite the traumatic events of the past few days, Mr Morrison said he found the response of residents and their families as ‘quite inspiring’.

Earlier, the prime minister and premier were briefed on the unprecedented firestorms at the Mid-North Coast Fire Control Centre in Wauchope, where they were told firefighters have found it hard to contain and access some fire areas. 

'We're not out of this yet,' Mr Morrison told reporters at the evacuation centre in Taree

‘We’re not out of this yet,’ Mr Morrison told reporters at the evacuation centre in Taree

Images from the efforts by the men and women in the air and on the ground fighting the fires in northern NSW

Images from the efforts by the men and women in the air and on the ground fighting the fires in northern NSW

Mr Morrison wouldn’t be drawn on climate change when quizzed about it during the media conference.

‘I’m focused on the needs of the people in this room today, as is the premier, the needs of resourcing firefighters and to ensure they have everything they need to keep those firefighters safe and to protect as many properties as we can,’ he replied.  

Grandmother Vivian Chaplain, 69, died in hospital after she suffered burns to 40 to 50 per cent of her body after fire swept through her home in Johns River on Friday.

A woman who died as she tried to flee the weekend’s devastating bushfires was identified as Julie Fletcher, 63. 

Ms Fletcher’s body was discovered on Saturday night in a burnt-out home in the town of Johns River some 40km north of Taree on the mid-north coast. 

Wytaliba resident George Nole was also named as a victim. 

Firefighters are desperately trying to control devastating bushfires across NSW before a 'dangerous day' of weather forecast for Tuesday

Firefighters are desperately trying to control devastating bushfires across NSW before a ‘dangerous day’ of weather forecast for Tuesday

Three people have died and 150 homes have been lost in the bushfires in NSW

Three people have died and 150 homes have been lost in the bushfires in NSW 

Natural Disaster and Emergency Management Minister David Littleproud warned the fires in NSW and Queensland could get worse on Tuesday and when there are also concerns of potential catastrophic fire levels in Western Australia.

He urged people to listen to the instructions given by firefighters in affected areas.

‘We cannot take this for granted, this a very, very frightening circumstance that people have to take seriously,’ Mr Littleproud told Sky News on Sunday.

The military have also been called in to bring firefighters from interstate to help in NSW and Queensland, and are also being asked to help with catering, accommodation and some backburning.

The Australian Government Disaster Recovery Payment and the Disaster Recovery Allowance have been activated to provide financial assistance, payment that provide $1000 for adults and $400 for children that have lost their homes.

‘That is just to get people through the here and now. We understand there is a bigger job to be done,’ Mr Littleproud said

He urged fire victims to contact Centrelink to receive their payments from 12pm on Sunday. 

NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian is seen during a visit to Club Taree Evacuation Centre in Taree

NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian is seen during a visit to Club Taree Evacuation Centre in Taree

Read more at DailyMail.co.uk


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