Firefighters from New South Wales' Rural Fire Service (RFS)
arrive to put out a fire at a property in Lithgow, New
South Wales. REUTERS/SEVEN NETWORK/ via Reuters
The devastating NSW bushfires have claimed their first
life, with a man dying as he fought to save his central coast
home as authorities fear more fatalities.
The 63-year-old man collapsed from a heart attack outside his
Lake Munmorah home and died in Wyong hospital on Thursday
Rural Fire Service Commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons said
hundreds of properties are expected to be lost and residents
may be trapped in burnt out homes.
"We've seen some very hostile fire ground situations right
throughout yesterday, damage and destruction right across
large parts of NSW," Mr Fitzsimmons said.
"We are expecting numbers to be in the hundreds when it comes
to homes and buildings and infrastructure and we simply can't
ignore the reality that there may be people still within
their homes that may not have got out."
He became visibly emotional as he addressed the media, and
had to pause to compose himself as he praised the work of
"We have the best firefighters in the world," he said.
Premier Barry O'Farrell said the man's death was the worst
"That's the worst that anyone wants to happen and we send our
sympathy to his family," Premier Barry O'Farrell said at RFS
headquarters in Sydney.
Authorities say the fire threat was far from over despite
cooler conditions on Friday as 98 fires continued to burn
across NSW with 28 uncontained.
More than 1250 firefighters are battling blazes across the
state, with over 360 trucks deployed and around 89,000
hectares burnt, the RFS says.
An emergency warning was been re-issued for Springwood in the
Blue Mountains, which already lost an estimated 100 homes on
Springwood High School was threatened by flames, but children
remained at the school with RFS firefighters on site.
Seven schools in the Blue Mountains and one in Lithgow
remained closed on Friday.
The mayor of the Blue Mountains, Mark Greenhill, praised the
resilience of residents who lost their homes in Thursday's
"The Blue Mountains has experienced bushfire before, but
nothing like this," Mr Greenhill told the Seven Network.
"We lost scores of homes. There are a lot of families without
homes right through the area.
"We spent the evening ... comforting residents who had lost
everything. This has been a very tough 24 hours for the
community of the Blue Mountains."
To the north of Sydney, the RFS also reissued an emergency
warning for a fire burning in the Wyong area on the NSW
A spokesman said the Rutley Road fire's eastern side is now
threatening properties on Chain Valley Bay Road, at Chain
The fire has already ripped through 1500 hectares of scrub
and is believed to have destroyed numerous homes, including
"I've been advised that it's been confirmed that four houses
in the heritage village of Catherine Hill Bay have been
lost," Lake Macquarie Mayor Jodie Harrison told ABC radio.
"The historic jetty is currently on fire."
Properties on the eastern side of Murrays Beach at Lake
Macquarie on the Central Coast were also threatened.
An RFS spokeswoman said 50 fire fighters were fighting a 496
hectare blaze at Mt Victoria in the Blue Mountains, and that
at Balmoral in the southern highlands more than 120
firefighters were battling a blaze running toward Bargo and
MacArthur Drive, at Wilton.
She also said over 120 fire fighters were at the Hank Street
fire at Port Stephens, north of Sydney.
For those unable to meet the cost of essential repairs to
their homes financial assistance is available under the NSW
Disaster Relief Scheme, Mr O'Farrell said.
Senior Assistant Police Commissioner Dick Adams and former
Rural Fire Service Commissioner Phil Koperberg will head the
emergency recovery, he said in a statement.