Fire threats eased in parts of southeast Australia on Sunday after a horror day of blazes that killed one man and forced thousands to evacuate, but authorities warned several fires were still burning at emergency levels and hot weather was set to return.
As the immediate danger passed, authorities began assessing the damage from the blazes that swept across the states of eastern Victoria and southern New South Wales (NSW) on Saturday.
Tens of thousands of homes remained without power as a large-scale military and police effort continued to provide supplies and evacuate people who have been trapped for days by the fires in coastal towns.
The Rural Fire Service said 150 fires remained active in the state, 64 of them uncontrolled.
“It’s not something we have experienced before,” NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian said.
“The weather activity we’re seeing, the extent and spread of the fires, the speed at which they’re [moving], the way they are attacking communities that have never seen fire is unprecedented,” she said.
She said the extent of the bushfire season was the largest in living memory, “and many experts have been around much longer than I have, who fought fires and observed circumstances. All agree we’re in uncharted territory.”
The latest death occurred at Batlow in NSW, where a 47-year-old man died on Saturday night while defending the home of a friend from the flames. NSW police said the man was found unconscious in a vehicle and could not be revived.