Fire crews from Queensland, Victoria and the ACT are on their way to New South Wales to boost numbers at the critical fire scenes.

Cooler temperatures today did give weary firefighters some respite.

But, horror conditions are against expected on Sunday and Monday.

Mike Burgess reports.


The toll so far from the fire crisis is staggering.

Eighty eight thousand hectares of land ravaged.

Damage already in the tens of millions of dollars.

Hundreds of homes, properties and businesses destroyed and countless lives affected.

And, it is far from over.

Prime Minister Tony Abbott visited fire-ravaged communities in the Blue Mountains this afternoon where dozens of homes are reported lost.

He says the sympathies of the nation, are with the victims.

Tony Abbott, Prime Minister: “Australia is a country which is prone to natural disasters, but every time it strikes it hurts.”

Opposition Leader Bill Shorten says today is not the time for politics.

Bill Shorten, Opposition Leader: “If you’ve lost the school reports and the family photos, these things can never be compensated for, so Federal Labor is, our thoughts are with the people of News South Wales.”

In Catherine Hill Bay, north of Sydney, flames literally ringed the beachside community overnight.

Several homes were destroyed including the historic Wallarah House, built in the 1880s.

All residents had to be evacuated.

At midday today, a nearby fire front jumped across the road threatening residents in the Chain Valley Bay and Wyong areas.

Tonight, hundreds of people are still taking refuge in makeshift evacuation centres, hoping for the best, but fearing the worst.

Officer Alex Chesser, Rural Fire Service: “The absolute magnitude of these fires is really amazing.”

Officer Alex Chesser, Rural Fire Service: “At this stage we simply don’t think we will be able to have that contained within a week or even weeks, it’s gonna take a lot of work and a lot of time by fire fighters and emergency services to get around it.”

This afternoon a new firefront started up Leppington in Sydney’s south west.

Despite initial concerns, it’s now been downgraded to a ‘watch and act’ status.

Mike Burgess, QUT News.