Australia bushfires: Forecast rain brings relief, but also risk of landslides

As devastating bushfires continue to burn in Australia, significant rainfall forecast for much of New South Wales (NSW) is bringing hope for firefighters.

It's not all good news, though, as the rain will also bring the risk of landslides to fire-damaged areas.

According to Australia's Bureau of Meteorology (BOM), significant rainfall was expected to arrive in the state mid-week and stay until the weekend.

Writing on its Facebook page, the NSW Rural Fire Service could hardly contain its joy upon seeing the forecast. 

"If this Bureau of Meteorology rainfall forecast comes to fruition then this will be all of our Christmas, birthday, engagement, anniversary, wedding and graduation presents rolled into one," it said. "Fingers crossed."

Earlier on Monday, the fire service said there were 111 bush and grass fires burning across the state, 40 of which were not yet contained.

"While it's been pleasing to hear of rain falling across parts of the state today, many of these fires will still take some time to fully contain," the Rural Fire Service said.

BOM meteorologist Gabrielle Woodhouse said although the forecast rain would bring relief for many areas, it would also bring risks for some places.

"We are looking at a couple of days in a row of some showers and thunderstorms, some of which may produce significant accumulation over those couple of days," local media reported Woodhouse saying.

"It will be quite welcome, but there are some extra dangers and risks associated with it as the landscape is quite vulnerable with the fire damage.

"We've lost a lot of vegetations and there is the risk of landslips."

The fires have burned through more than six million hectares of land across the country, with at least 28 people confirmed dead so far.

As well as the human toll, the fires have also killed a staggering number of animals.

According to one professor, as many as a billion animals may have been killed in the blazes so far.

On Kangaroo Island, in South Australia, 25,000 koalas are feared to have died.

Environment Minister Sussan Ley says the country's koala population has taken an "extraordinary hit" in the fires and could now be formally classified as "endangered", according to the Sydney Morning Herald.

Firefighters have been pushed the limit battling the blazes. Australia's Defence Force Reserves have been called in to help fight the fires, and firefighters from New Zealand have also been deployed across the Tasman to offer assistance.

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