By Linda Bordoni
The New South Wales Rural Fire service issued warnings for 17 fires, advising people to leave early or to seek shelter. The Fire service said more than 50 smaller blazes also burning out of control.
The Australian National broadcaster reported that the service has also received many reports of people being trapped in their homes.
High winds are fanning the fires and reportedly turning the sky red in the mid-north coastal town of Port Macquarie.
More than 1,000 firefighters and 70 aircraft have been deployed to battle the blaze.
In neighboring Queensland State, people in several towns with a combined population of around 6,500, were also told to leave by the state’s fire and emergency services.
Australia this year had an early and fierce start to its bushfire season, with an elderly couple killed in a blaze in October.
The bushfires have also wiped out about half the koalas living on a coastal reserve in New South Wales.
Warmer weather brought by climate change threatens to worsen conditions for one of the animals that symbolize Australia, as deforestation has narrowed habitable areas for koalas.