'Firestorm' devastates Australian state, killing two with 'more losses' expected

Firefighters' worst fears have been realised in Australia where New South Wales has been hit with more bushfire emergencies than ever before in a single day.

At least two people have died, 150 homes are in ruin and Australia's Prime Minister says he expects worse to come. 

Driving directly into a furnace, firefighters face an inferno, head-on. The only light is a hellish glow and not just in Rainbow Flat, New South Wales. 

Even in Australia - the land of bushfires - firefighters have never seen a day like this.

'Firestorm' devastates Australian state, killing two with 'more losses' expected
Photo credit: Newshub.

"We are seeing a situation in New South Wales with these fires we've not seen before," said New South Wales premier Glady Berejiklian.

Already, the fires are deadly and authorities expect the toll may rise. 

"These fires have already claimed two lives, that have been confirmed. As the Premier said, we are expecting worse news as the day unfolds," said Prime Minister Scott Morrison.

"We can't rule out the really grave concerns that there could be more losses or indeed more fatalities," Shane Fitzsimmons, the  Rural Fire Service Commissioner.

On Friday, 17 bushfire emergencies were burning at once in New South Wales - nearly double the highest number on record.

'Firestorm' devastates Australian state, killing two with 'more losses' expected
Photo credit: Newshub.

So many fires, many communities had no choice but to fend for themselves.

"We've gotta protect the place, I've got too much gear here," said Nymboida resident Tony McLennan.

On a farm at Nymboida, it came without warning, leaving little time to prepare.

"Two hours ago it was 10km away. I haven't seen anything like this in my lifetime. And I'm getting up there," said McLennan.

For others nearby, it's simply too late.  Homes and vehicles, totally destroyed.

"It was devastating. It was, it was a storm. It wasn't a fire, it was a storm. It was a firestorm," said Paul Johnson from the Nymboida Rural Fire Brigade.

Over hundreds of kilometres from the Queensland border down to the state's mid-North coast, more than a hundred homes are in ruins.

'Firestorm' devastates Australian state, killing two with 'more losses' expected
Photo credit: Newshub.

"Just like that. We've lost everything. Everyone's lost houses. It's devastation. It's like a bomb went off and went bang," Bobin resident Kim Hinton said.

Some residents were forced to flee to the beaches, leaving their homes to an unknown fate.

While in Rainbow Flat, firefighters battled, even their own fire brigade was destroyed.

It's a risk faced by all 1300 volunteers, fighting fires all over the state.

On Saturday night, that battle is far from over. Homes and people are still at risk.

New Zealand effect
 

The impact is also being seen in New Zealand.

Dust bush fires turned the sky a reddish brown colour for most of the South Island today. If the sky is clear of rain clouds tomorrow morning, the east coast off the North Island will be treated to a stunning sun rise due to the smoke and dust.

Smoke and ash can be seen on satellite photos across the Tasman sea. 

'Firestorm' devastates Australian state, killing two with 'more losses' expected
Photo credit: Newshub.
Ash seen in Queenstown.
Ash seen in Queenstown. Photo credit: Newshub.
An ash cloud in Ashburton.
An ash cloud in Ashburton. Photo credit: Newshub.

A request may also be sent to New Zealand firefighters for help due to the horrific conditions expected by Tuesday to cover a much larger part of New South Wales.

Newshub.

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