Australian bushfires: Fire chief says the worst is yet to come

As Australia faces "catastrophic" bushfires, firefighters are warning the worst is yet to come.

Dozens of fires were still burning across New South Wales and Queensland on Wednesday, with hot, windy conditions expected later in the week.

"We've really got a long way to go," NSW's Rural Fire Service Commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons said. "You can guarantee we're not going to be able to get around all of these fires before the next wave of bad weather."

Fitzsimmons said there was going to be no "meaningful reprieve" with hot weather forecast.

"There's no rainfall in this change and we're going to continue to have warm, dry conditions dominating in the days and weeks ahead.

"It's going to be a long, difficult fire season and we have the worst of our conditions typically ahead of us as we come into the months of summer."

Around 80 fires are burning in NSW, 50 of which are not contained. Another 70 are burning in Queensland, with one at an emergency level, reports

Firefighters from New Zealand have already been sent across the ditch to help, with Australian firefighters stretched thin.

The Australian Defence is also working to support firefighters.

Three people have died so far in the fires, with more than 200 homes damaged or destroyed. A state of emergency has been declared in NSW.

The fires got close to Sydney, at Llandilo and Woodford, as well as in Birrong, reports the Sydney Morning Herald

Bushfires are common in Australia, but authorities have been taken off guard this year, with the fires starting earlier than usual.

Australia's Minister for Emergency Services, David Elliott, said the fires had already burned through three times the amount of area as blazes burnt last season, "and we haven't even reached summer".