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Two dead in 'nightmare' bushfires: Woman dies after suffering horror burns and a body is found inside the charred wreckage of a car as raging infernos destroy 100 homes - and officials warn the death toll could rise

Daily Mail logo Daily Mail 4 days ago Nic White and Charlie Coë and Zoe Zaczek For Daily Mail Australia

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Video by Reuters

Two people are dead and at least seven missing as more than 70 fires rage across New South Wales and Queensland destroying 100 homes and burning whole towns.

More than 1,300 are battling blazes across NSW as officials admit the situation is 'beyond serious' and hot, dry weather forecasts mean 'we're not through the worst of it'. 

a lot of smoke around it: 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) © Provided by Associated Newspapers Limited 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)

A firefighter discovered the body of a man in a burnt-out car on Saturday morning at the Kangawalla fire near Glen Innes, and later that morning a woman died in hospital.

The woman was on Friday found by firefighters after a blaze ripped through the area, unconscious and suffering horrific burns over 40 to 50 per cent of her body.

a pile of hay: More than thirty people have been injured in the fires. Pictured are the remains of a boarding kennels in Taree on Saturday morning © Provided by Associated Newspapers Limited More than thirty people have been injured in the fires. Pictured are the remains of a boarding kennels in Taree on Saturday morning

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

More than thirty people are injured, NSW Rural Fire Service said, while last night firefighters warned they were tackling 'unprecedented' blazes and were in 'uncharted territory' as they struggled to reach homes where people were trapped.

a close up of a map: A total of 77 bushfires were still burning on NSW's mid-north coast and south-eastern Queensland at 7am on Saturday, with 42 of them out of control © Provided by Associated Newspapers Limited A total of 77 bushfires were still burning on NSW's mid-north coast and south-eastern Queensland at 7am on Saturday, with 42 of them out of control

A terrifying audio recording, meanwhile, captured the moment five 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. 

a pile of wood in a yard: 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) © Provided by Associated Newspapers Limited 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)

Commissioner of the NSW RFS Shane Fitzsimmons said the body was found in the car by one of the service's volunteers who was trying to identify unaccounted-for people.

'One of our senior volunteer commanders has come across a burnt-out vehicle and the remains of somebody has been located inside that vehicle,' he told the ABC.

a bench in front of a fence: The remains of a B Double trailer were left smouldering on the Pacific Highway south of Taree after bushfires swept through the region © Provided by Associated Newspapers Limited The remains of a B Double trailer were left smouldering on the Pacific Highway south of Taree after bushfires swept through the region

'Clearly, that's very distressing and our thoughts and prayers to those that are affected and particularly the family and loved ones of the occupant of this vehicle.'

Another harrowing report by the state's fire service was of a woman suffering burns to as much as 50 per cent of her body after being trapped in her home by a bushfire.

a truck traveling down a dirt road: Trucks gathered at Taree Service Centre as smoke billows from a bushfire at Taree on Friday © Provided by Associated Newspapers Limited Trucks gathered at Taree Service Centre as smoke billows from a bushfire at Taree on Friday

'They rendered first aid and CPR for quite some time before paramedics arrived and were able to transport them to hospital overnight,' the commissioner said. 

A total of 77 bushfires were still burning at 7am on Saturday, with 42 of them out of control.

fireworks in the night sky: Embers from a tree are seen burning as the fires rage on throughout NSW's coastal towns © Provided by Associated Newspapers Limited Embers from a tree are seen burning as the fires rage on throughout NSW's coastal towns

Mr 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.

a tree with a sunset in the background: Hot windy conditions have seen bushfires wreak havoc throughout the state (pictured fire in Woodford in the Blue Mountains, NSW) © Provided by Associated Newspapers Limited Hot windy conditions have seen bushfires wreak havoc throughout the state (pictured fire in Woodford in the Blue Mountains, NSW)

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

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

a person standing next to a tree: The fires have been burning through various NSW towns on Friday night with the blaze expected to last for hours to come © Provided by Associated Newspapers Limited The fires have been burning through various NSW towns on Friday night with the blaze expected to last for hours to come

In Wallabi Point, where one of the emergency level fires was still blazing on Saturday morning, there were reports of an entire street in the town had been wiped out.

'We have a massive fireball storm from the south and it has sprung up in the last half an hour. There are flames that have to be 60 foot high,' resident Peter Lean told the Today show.   

a view of a city at night: Bushfires are burning close to homes in Woodford (pictured) on Friday night with fires expected to continue into the night © Provided by Associated Newspapers Limited Bushfires are burning close to homes in Woodford (pictured) on Friday night with fires expected to continue into the night

'I have never seen the sky so red since 2000. The whole street at the end of the roundabout is gone.' 

In Queensland, firefighters have been stretched to the limit as hot and dry conditions along with strong winds turned towns to tinderboxes. 

a close up of a map: 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 © Provided by Associated Newspapers Limited 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

One resident in the small town of Bobin, near Taree, posted on social media that the local school was on fire and at least one resident was trapped. 

The school has reportedly been destroyed in the inferno in Bobin as well as many as 20 houses. 

a traffic light on a city street at night: Crews from the NSW RFS are conducting property protection as the blaze continues to burn through houses on Railway Parade in Woodford, NSW (pictured) © Provided by Associated Newspapers Limited Crews from the NSW RFS are conducting property protection as the blaze continues to burn through houses on Railway Parade in Woodford, NSW (pictured)

Two homes have been lost in Coraki, south of Lismore.

The smoke from the fires was combining to create 'fire clouds' which can create lightning even in the absence of rain or storm activity.

a tree with snow on the ground: A charred tree lay across the Pacific Highway on Saturday morning as the burnt-out bush smouldered by the roadside © Provided by Associated Newspapers Limited A charred tree lay across the Pacific Highway on Saturday morning as the burnt-out bush smouldered by the roadside

'These (fire clouds) are extremely dangerous. Do not be caught out in the open,' the New South Wales RFS said. 

NSW RFS Commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons says there are reports of 'multiple community areas being impacted, loss, damage and destruction'.

a man driving a car: A firefighter is seen on the job as the RFS conduct property protection at Woodford, as bushfires ravage the state © Provided by Associated Newspapers Limited A firefighter is seen on the job as the RFS conduct property protection at Woodford, as bushfires ravage the state

'There are some preliminary reports of injuries that have still got to be validated and some minor injuries to some firefighters,' the commissioner said in an online video.

'We are going into a phase where the winds are going to be somewhat relentless into the evening.' 

a group of people walking down the street: NSW Rural Fire Service personnel conduct property protection as a bushfire burns in Woodford © Provided by Associated Newspapers Limited NSW Rural Fire Service personnel conduct property protection as a bushfire burns in Woodford

Fire crews have been forced to take shelter in nearby creeks as they continue to battle the raging fires. 

Mr Fitzsimmons described the fires as both 'volatile' and 'unprecedented'.

A resident hoses smouldering logs at property in Woodford, where hot, windy conditions have wreaked havoc © Provided by Associated Newspapers Limited A resident hoses smouldering logs at property in Woodford, where hot, windy conditions have wreaked havoc

'To have 17 fires concurrently burning at emergency warning alert level is without precedent here in NSW. We've never had this many fires burning at the same time,' he said. 

The commissioner urged people to stay where they were, as in many cases the access road to leave was more dangerous than their homes.

a man with a sunset in the background: There are currently 15 fires burning at emergency levels across NSW as firefighters work hard to control the blaze © Provided by Associated Newspapers Limited There are currently 15 fires burning at emergency levels across NSW as firefighters work hard to control the blaze

'You've got to understand a lot of the access roads in and around many of these fires are more dangerous than staying in a shelter or a safer place in your local community or your property,' he told the ABC.

'The principal message is about sheltering and sheltering in place - it's simply too dangerous and too late to leave.' 

a person standing in front of a sunset: 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 © Provided by Associated Newspapers Limited 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

RFS is urging those affected, or who have loved ones affected by the fires, to check the Register Find Reunite site. 

Thousands of Queenslanders were forced to evacuate on Friday after the inferno came within just kilometres of Brisbane's city centre, and a multitude of fires broke out from the Gold Coast to the Sunshine Coast.

a person riding on the back of a truck: Firefighters and trucks are seen during conduct property protection, as fires ravage New South Wales © Provided by Associated Newspapers Limited Firefighters and trucks are seen during conduct property protection, as fires ravage New South Wales

Residents of Scenic Rim, about 90 minutes south-west of Brisbane, have two dangerous bushfires burning on either side of them, with winds expected to increase throughout a hot, dry night.

One of them is a blaze at Tarome, a rural hamlet some 80km southwest of Brisbane, that is expected to affect the little community by early evening.

a man that is standing in the snow: Residents watch on as a bushfire burns in Woodford, New South Wales, on Friday © Provided by Associated Newspapers Limited Residents watch on as a bushfire burns in Woodford, New South Wales, on Friday

The other blaze is at Clumber and Moogerah, where a prepare to leave order has been issued.

'Today has been a difficult and dangerous day. The bush fire threat is expected to continue for many hours,' RFS wrote on Facebook. 

a person flying through the air: Residents watch on as an Aircrane water bombing helicopter flies by their property in Harrington © Provided by Associated Newspapers Limited Residents watch on as an Aircrane water bombing helicopter flies by their property in Harrington

'Homes, buildings and facilities have been destroyed today. The exact number won't be known for some time, as Building Impact Assessment Teams inspect the widespread area that has been affected.

'Numerous people have called for help today - and due to the magnitude and speed of the fires, we haven't been able to get to everyone, even by road or helicopter.' 

a man riding on the back of a truck: A firefighter from the RFS runs down the road during bushfires in NSW. A firetruck is seen in the background © Provided by Associated Newspapers Limited A firefighter from the RFS runs down the road during bushfires in NSW. A firetruck is seen in the background

Shocking photos showed the flames perilously close to homes near Taree and the streets of Grafton clouded in a thick red haze.

A mayor on the state's mid-north coast said the bushfires ripping through the region were 'horrifying and horrendous beasts'.

a close up of clouds in the dark: The sun is seen through heavy smoke as a bushfire burns in Woodford on Friday afternoon © Provided by Associated Newspapers Limited The sun is seen through heavy smoke as a bushfire burns in Woodford on Friday afternoon

Mid-Coast Council mayor David West says he's anguished as residents brace themselves in the face of volatile fire conditions near Taree.

'From my personal perspective, it's horrifying,' he told AAP on Friday afternoon.

a plane flying in the air: A water tanker airplane drops fire retardant on a bushfire in Harrington on Friday © Provided by Associated Newspapers Limited A water tanker airplane drops fire retardant on a bushfire in Harrington on Friday

'I've never felt a sense of anguish that I do now, the fear for my community.'

Mr West said a fire near Forster threatened a council building on Thursday night.

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 © Provided by Associated Newspapers Limited 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

'It was literally a wall of yellow, horrible, beastly, tormenting flames,' the mayor said.

'It was a horrendous beast.'

a large waterfall: Smoke from the fires raging across the New South Wales mid-north coast and up towards the Queensland border could be seen from space © Provided by Associated Newspapers Limited Smoke from the fires raging across the New South Wales mid-north coast and up towards the Queensland border could be seen from space

The mayor - who lives in Brimbin - is particularly concerned about an out-of-control fire burning near Hillville south of Taree.

The NSW Rural Fire Service says that fire has crossed the Pacific Highway and is spreading quickly. 

a car driving down a street next to a palm tree: A shocking photo showed the streets of Grafton clouded in a thick red haze as more than a dozen fires rage across the state © Provided by Associated Newspapers Limited A shocking photo showed the streets of Grafton clouded in a thick red haze as more than a dozen fires rage across the state

The highway is closed in both directions between Taree and Bulahdelah. The Pacific Highway is also closed at Port Macquarie between the Oxley Highway and Hastings River Drive. 

'It (the Hillville fire) moving toward the coast at a fairly rapid rate,' Mr West said.

a train on a track with smoke coming out of a house: An Aircrane water bombing helicopter drops water on a bushfires in Harrington, 335km north east of Sydney, on Friday © Provided by Associated Newspapers Limited An Aircrane water bombing helicopter drops water on a bushfires in Harrington, 335km north east of Sydney, on Friday

'The area that I live in hasn't been burned in about 30 years. There's a huge amount of fuel load.'

A number of schools have been closed in the area due to the bushfires.

A mayor on the state's mid-north coast said the bushfires ripping through the region were 'horrifying and horrendous beasts' (pictured aerial video of a bushfire at Harrington near Port Macquarie) © Provided by Associated Newspapers Limited A mayor on the state's mid-north coast said the bushfires ripping through the region were 'horrifying and horrendous beasts' (pictured aerial video of a bushfire at Harrington near Port Macquarie)

MidCoast Council deputy mayor Claire Pontin - who lives in nearby Hallidays Point - says the area is 'tinder dry'.

'It's just crispy. In places, you can hear the leaves crunching under your feet.'  

Earlier on Friday, Mr Fitzsimmons said two homes had been damaged or destroyed in the fire burning at Stockyard Flat near Walcha with assessors yet to reach the site.

'It is a volatile day and it will remain a volatile day,' Mr Fitzsimmons told reporters in Sydney.

'We need vigilance and we need people to be decisive and ready to act in accordance with any direction given by authorities.'

Mr Fitzsimmons said the bushfire danger across the state was 'at the upper end of the scale', with five total fire bans in place for the New England, far north coast, north coast, Greater Hunter and Northern Slopes regions. 

Fire and Rescue NSW Commissioner Paul Baxter said at-risk residents needed to be ready to act.

'Once a fire gets to an emergency alert level we may not be able to get to help you,' Mr Baxter told reporters.

'We haven't got the resources to be able to put into every single area so you must be prepared to survive yourself.'

smoke coming from it: A water tanker airplane drops fire retardant on a bushfire in Harrington on Friday © Provided by Associated Newspapers Limited A water tanker airplane drops fire retardant on a bushfire in Harrington on Friday

The escalated fire risk comes after a man, aged in his 50s, suffered serious burns to his legs and hands while trying to defend his rural property in Yarrowitch, east of Walcha, on Thursday.

Dust is expected to be blown across much of the state's northeast on Friday with the Central Coast and Newcastle areas the worst affected.

The fire danger should lessen over the weekend, although threat levels were forecast to rise again on Tuesday or Wednesday next week, Mr Fitzsimmons said.

Bureau of Meteorology duty forecaster Rose Barr says there should be a brief reprieve in fire weather conditions as temperatures cool over the weekend.

'(But) from Monday conditions will warm up again and temperatures will heat up significantly,' she told AAP.

Rising temperatures are forecast to bring elevated fire dangers across much of NSW by Tuesday.

a steam engine train with smoke coming out of it: Out of control flames were snapped from a nearby residential area in Harrington © Provided by Associated Newspapers Limited Out of control flames were snapped from a nearby residential area in Harrington an aerial view of a city: Dust was expected to be blown across much of the state's northeast on Friday with the Central Coast and Newcastle areas the worst affected (fire at Harrington pictured) © Provided by Associated Newspapers Limited Dust was expected to be blown across much of the state's northeast on Friday with the Central Coast and Newcastle areas the worst affected (fire at Harrington pictured) Read more

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