“We’ve simply never had this number of fires burn in North South Wales at the same time,” NSW Rural Fire Service Commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons said at a briefing Friday.
“There’s just nothing in our forecast to suggest anything but a dominance of above-average temperatures and below-average rainfall,” he said. “We’ve still got to get into summer, where typically we have our worst of weather conditions.”
Rainfall last month was extremely low across New South Wales and other parts of Australia, with some regions recording their driest October ever. The nation’s Bureau of Meteorology says this trend will continue until the end of the year.
“Unfortunately, many people have called for help but due to the size and speed of the fires we couldn’t get to everyone, even by road or helicopter,” the agency tweeted.
Firefighters were continuing to battle fires that remained out of control through the night and into Saturday morning. The biggest fire was in Carrai National Park to the north of Sydney, where nearly 300,000 acres have been burned.
“We can’t seem to win,” the organization posted on Facebook. “Just when we were putting up a positive happy post…The area they just finished search work today — some of the unburnt country with koalas in it, is now burning like hell again!”
Paolo Zialcita is an intern on NPR’s Newsdesk.
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