New South Wales hit by 'apocalyptic' fires

The Australian state of New South Wales was in the grip of an unprecedented bushfire crisis last night, with almost 50 fires still raging out of control despite the efforts of 1,200 firefighters and 70 firefighting planes.

The fires cast an ominous orange glow over large areas of eastern New South Wales, (NSW) with locals describing the scene as “apocalyptic”.

At one point during the day there were more than 90 fires burning in the state with 57 out of control and 17 considered “emergency level”. There were also two emergency level fires in southern Queensland.

Both states have been plagued by severe drought, and while some parts of New South Wales had rain last weekend, it was not widespread enough to mitigate the damage done by months of historically poor rainfall, making this fire season more dangerous than usual.

Shane Fitzsimmons, the NSW Rural Fire Service commissioner, said almost 1,200 firefighters and 70 aircraft had been deployed “to save as many people as possible”, with around 92,000 people affected. It described the situation as “uncharted territory”.

At least two homes were destroyed by the fire and there were multiple reports of people being trapped in their homes in several locations because the intensity of the blazes had made it impossible for fire crews to reach them.

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