Conditions improve with Australian fires

Conditions improve with Australian fires

Conditions have improved as Australian firefighters battle deadly bushfires in two states.

Three people have now died, with the latest a volunteer firefighter in New South Wales.

The other two lost their lives in the massive South Australian blaze.

Dry winds and high temperatures that whipped up the fireball north of Adelaide have died away allowing firefighters to concentrate on dampening down the hotspots, and assessing the damage, but they warn the danger isn't over.

George Hooker was almost caught by the speed of the advancing fire that caught so many by surprise.

Phone footage shows a farmer desperately ploughing a firebreak in vain.

The blaze consumed more than 80,000 hectares along a 260 kilometre front.

 Now it's time to count the cost.  Thirty-five homes were destroyed, another 42 damaged.

Other families have lost even more. Janet Hughes, 56, died as fire engulfed her car.

Alan Tiller, 69, was killed as the blaze swept through a paddock.

The tragedy is not confined to South Australia.

Volunteer firefighter Paul Sanderson suffered a heart attack as he fought one of 30 blazes across New South Wales.

Conditions there have eased while extra help has arrived in South Australia.

Three hundred Victorian volunteers and a break in the weather are giving exhausted firefighters a break.

The fire has now been downgraded. While there are clearly still some hot spots, authorities hope to have it completely under control by the weekend before the hot weather returns on Monday.

Roads have re-opened and residents are returning, but authorities are urging vigilance, one undetected hot spot could prove deadly.

The fire tonight is 75 percent contained. Five people still remain in hospital. Authorities are also working to restore power which was knocked out in the region and the damage bill is expected to grow as assessment teams move through the fire zone.

3 News