NSW’s worst bushfire disaster in more than a decade

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HUNDREDS of homes are feared destroyed across New South Wales in what has been described as the worst bushfire disaster in more than a decade.

More than 100 fires continue to burn across the state and Premier Barry O’Farrell believes it will be a ‘miracle’ if no lives are lost in the bushfire crisis.

The major concern for firefighters at this point is a blaze burning at Ruttleys Road on the state’s Central Coast where an emergency warning is in place.

NSW Rural Fire Services Commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons says despite the cooler and less humid conditions in the state today, the fire situation is still “very active, very dynamic, very dangerous”.

“The situation is very subject to change,” he told the Nine Network.

An emergency warning for the blaze which engulfed an area between Lithgow and Blipin was downgraded to a “watch and act”.

The fire burning in the Central Coast areas of Doyalson North, Swansea, Carns Wharf, Murrays Beach, Cave Beach and Catherine Hill Bay is still considered an emergency.

RFS Fire fighters try to control a bushfire on the Mariah River road between Port Macquarie and Crescent Head Source: News Limited

A crime scene has been declared at Yellow Rock in the Blue Mountains while the state coroner investigates whether any lives were lost in yesterday’s inferno.

Emergency personnel last night told a number of residents that people were feared dead.

Houses are still on fire in the area, parts of the ground are still too hot to walk over and many red-eyed residents continue to wait anxiously to learn of the fate of their homes and pets.

“The ground is red hot, trees are falling down everywhere,” said Kim Irwin.

A Blacktown police officer on scene said this morning: “It’s still so dangerous down there.

“There are still fires everywhere and we don’t know how many lives were lost.”

Yellow Rock was yesterday surveyed by the state coroner but it is still unclear if investigators located any bodies.

Interstate firefighters are on their way to help battle the state’s worst bushfires in a decade.

A major fire at Lithgow, west of Sydney, is now heading in the direction of Bilpin and Mountain Lagoon in the Blue Mountains.

 A number of properties were destroyed in this fire and an emergency warning remains in place for the district.

And a fire burning in the Central Coast areas of Doyalson North, Swansea, Carns Wharf, Murrays Beach, Cave Beach and Catherine Hill Bay is still considered an emergency situation.

The Rural Fire Service early this morning said homes were under threat on Government Rd, at Nords Wharf, but residents were told it was too late to leave and they should seek shelter. Residents have been advised to leave now if it is safe to do so.

“Only well prepared and actively defended homes can offer safety. If you plan to leave, or you are not prepared and there is a safer place nearby, leave now if it is safe to do so.”

More than 1500 firefighters battled the blazes which started in hot and windy conditions yesterday afternoon.

A cool change early Thursday evening brought some relief to temperatures, but it also created new chaos, swinging fire fronts around and pushing blazes into new areas.

Commissioner Fitzsimmons couldn’t confirm how many properties had been damaged, but said it was probably in the hundreds.

“We’re not talking numbers in the dozens. The toll is going to be high.”

So far 88,200.65 hectares of land have been burnt.

Numerous schools are closed today.

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Source: News Corp Ltd.

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