“We still haven’t got intelligence from a number of the fire grounds that we know have been impacted dramatically,” Fitzsimmons told Nine Network television.
Firefighters found a body in a burned car near Glen Innes, Deputy Commissioner Rob Rogers said. Two residents remained missing.
Of the 35 people injured, 16 were firefighters, Fitzsimmons said.
“It’s been an awful day as we know and, sadly, we’re going to see some significant losses,” he said.
Hundreds of people evacuated their homes along a 500-kilometer (310-mile) swathe of the eastern seaboard from the Queensland state border south to Forster.
Forster is a town 300 kilometers (190 miles) north of Sydney, Australia’s largest city. Many spent the night in evacuation centers while some slept in cars.
“I think the problem with that area of mid-north coast is it was several fires, and they were all impacting on communities at the same time,” Rogers said. “So firefighters were torn between trying to send help to one fire or another.”
More than 300 people evacuated overnight to a social club in the town of Taree, including Club Taree’s chief executive Morgan Stewart.
“It was pretty scary,” Stewart said. “We’re hearing lots of stories of lost houses, lost property, goods and effects, animals, land. It’s going to be horrific, I think.”
Peter Lean spent the night on the roof of his house in the town of Wallabi Point extinguishing burning embers carried on strong winds.
“I’ve never seen the sky so red since 2000,” Lean said. “We’ve got winds blowing, they’re circling, it’s like a cyclone.”
Less destructive fires were blazing in other Australian states.
The annual Australian fire season which peaks during the Southern Hemisphere summer has started early after an unusually warm and dry winter.
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