© Provided by Associated Newspapers LimitedTearful: The Weekend Today reporter (right), 40, became upset as a man (left) told her 14 homes on his street in Taree had burned to the ground
Allison Langdon held back tears as she interviewed a devastated resident who lost his home to a bushfire in northern New South Wales.
The Weekend Today host, 40, became upset as Paul Miscamble told her 14 homes on his street in Bobin had burned to the ground.
'One of my mate's friend's mother could only find a tile that the kids made,' he said with a quivering voice on Sunday. 'Some of them have been there 50 years and they've lost everything... so many memories.
Mother-of-two Langdon, who will in the new year host a revamped Today Show with Karl Stefanovic, asked Mr Miscampbell if he was OK.
© Provided by Associated Newspapers LimitedOn Monday morning NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian (pictured on Monday at RFS HQ) officially declared a state of emergency which will last for seven days - as fire chiefs warned the infernos will be too dangerous to put out
Shattered, he replied: 'Yes. It is just tough. I mean, so many others have lost stuff. You know, you are trying to just keep all your emotions in... Every memory under the sun just gone.'
Langdon's eyes welled with tears but she avoided crying on air as she urged residents to follow firefighters' instructions as more than 100 blazes ravage the east coast with the worst yet to come.
A 'catastrophic' warning is in place for the Sydney and Hunter regions on Tuesday as 37C temperatures, 10 per cent humidity and high winds create the perfect conditions for destructive blazes to rapidly sweep through bushland.
On Monday morning NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian, for the first time since 2013, officially declared a state of emergency which will last for seven days - as fire chiefs warned the infernos will be too dangerous to put out. © Provided by Associated Newspapers LimitedUpset: Mother-of-two Langdon's eyes watered but she avoided crying on air as she urged residents to follow firefighters' instructions as more than 100 blazes ravage the east coast
Tuesday's fire danger ratings for NSW regions
© Provided by Associated Newspapers LimitedMap of horror: Diagram issued by the Rural Fire Service warns of a catastrophic danger - the highest level - to the Greater Sydney and Greater Hunter regions as temperatures will hit 37C on Tuesday
Catastrophic - Greater Sydney and Greater Hunter (including the Blue Mountains and Central Coast areas)
Extreme - North Coast, Illawarra/Shoalhaven, Central Ranges, Northern Slopes and North Western
Severe - Far North Coast, New England, Far South Coast, Southern Ranges, Lower Central West Plains
Bureau of Meteorology
NSW RFS Commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons said: 'In those conditions, fire behaviour is erratic and extreme to say the least and we won't be putting fires out when they take hold.
'Suppression is futile. The focus is on life safety and life protection.'
The Hawkesbury region and Hornsby in the north, Penrith in the west and Camden and Sutherland in the south are among the regions most at risk due to the concentration of bushland, with several schools in the west closing on Tuesday due to the danger.
Raging: A huge inferno took hold near Yeppoon, north Queensland. Almost 50 fires are burning in Queensland with crews focused on three that could threaten lives © Provided by Associated Newspapers Limited
But fire bosses have warned no suburb is entirely safe as the high winds could mean dangerous embers even fall in the CBD.
The Insurance Council has declared the NSW North Coast to be in a state of catastrophe, meaning that claims there will be looked at as a priority.
Millions of dollars worth of damage has already been caused as insurance companies send specialist disaster teams into fire-ravaged areas.
A man and two women in their sixties have died and thousands have been displaced so far. Forty fires in NSW are raging uncontained as total fire bans are in place today and tomorrow.
Almost 50 fires are burning in Queensland with crews focused on three that could threaten lives as firefighters from Tasmania are being mobilised to relieve exhausted Queensland crews.
Climate change campaigners are blaming the disaster on global warming amid Australia's worst drought on record - but Scott Morrison on Sunday refused to say if climate change is a factor.
'My only thoughts today are with those who have lost their lives and their families,' he said after he was heckled by a protester in Taree where he was visiting victims.
Inferno: A fire ravages the land near Glen Innes, New South Wales as a series of devastating blazes sweep through the east coast © Provided by Associated Newspapers Limited
A map issued by the Rural Fire Service warns of a catastrophic danger - the highest level - to the Greater Sydney and Greater Hunter regions.
It's the first time a catastrophic fire danger has been declared for Sydney since new fire ratings were introduced in 2009.
'High temperatures, strong winds and low humidity are forecast, making conditions dangerous,' NSW Rural Fire Service warned on social media.
'Catastrophic is the highest level of bush fire danger. Homes are not designed to withstand a fire under these conditions.
'If a fire starts and takes hold during catastrophic fire danger conditions, lives and homes will be at risk.'
Residents are warned to prepare to evacuate early and head to town centres and other safe places on Monday and not wait until the last moment on Tuesday.
Nervous wait: Wytaliba resident Storm Sparks holds her son Zeke Bacon as she waits to get back to her house at a roadblock near Glen Innes on Monday © Provided by Associated Newspapers Limited
'It wasn't a bushfire, it was a firestorm': Residents tell of horror as homes are destroyed
Residents thought they were going to die huddled in their small NSW community's fire station during an 'apocalyptic' bushfire that sounded like a freight train and rained down embers and soot.
The Northern Tablelands village of Torrington, population 81, lost a dozen homes on Friday as the worst fire in living memory engulfed the town.
While some residents fled early on Friday, Linda Birch was among those to take refuge in the town's metal fire station.
Smoke soon crept under the doors of the shed as embers bombarded the vents.
'It wasn't a bushfire, it was a firestorm,' she told AAP.
'The ferocity of this storm was that immense that we needed to put masks on within the shed as well.'
Ms Birch admitted she thought she was going to die, describing the situation as 'apocalyptic'.
Outside, the volunteer firefighters who were barely able to see a few feet ahead of themselves watered down the shed and hoped it survived.
'The sound was like a freight train, we couldn't hear ourselves, we couldn't talk, we just reacted,' Ms Birch said.
'We weren't sure if anyone survived outside. My husband and Leigh's husband were outside.'
Jennette Styles said Victorian firefighters managed to save the community hall - 'the hub of our village' - but homes dating back to the early 20th century and their contents had been lost.
'Our heritage, our history is just disappearing,' she said.
'It's an amazing village because we have beautiful people here and we care about each other.
'We pull together, but we need someone to come out and talk to these people who have lost houses.There are people who aren't insured or don't own the property or who have lost $85,000 sheds.'
The volunteer firefighters continued fighting the blaze over the weekend, saving Geoff Hilton's home and shed just in time.
© Provided by Associated Newspapers LimitedA map of devastating heat: The dark red regions are where temperatures will soar above 30C on Tuesday
'How close do you want it to be?' he says, looking at scorched earth forming a ring around his shed.
Torrington RFS captain Greg Kneipp and his deputy, his dad Bob, have been battling the blaze since it began two weeks ago, with a few days rest in between.
They were thankful for the support of out-of-town and interstate crews, aerial water bombing and those carting water to the station to fill the trucks.
'This would be the worst fire and I'm 47 years in the RFS. This would be it by far and only because of the dry conditions is it so bad,' Bob Kneipp said.
He said the camaraderie of the fire crew was one of the reasons he stayed in the RFS but has noticed young people are less likely to sign up.
'We're a big happy family,' he said.
© Provided by Associated Newspapers LimitedUnhealthy: As fires burned in Queensland, air pollution in Brisbane reached 'very unhealthy' levels, according to the Air Quality Index Visual Map. The purple areas are the worst affected. The air quality there is worse than the most polluted city in the world, Delhi in India
'Even when the strike teams come in ... within a couple of days, we know every one of them.'
NSW on Monday declared a state of emergency for seven days as bushfires continued to rage across the state.
'For your survival, leaving early is the only option,' the NSW RFS website states.
'Leave bushfire prone areas the night before or early in the day - do not just wait and see what happens.
'Start making arrangements now.If you are unable to leave, identify a safe location which may be nearby.'
While NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian described the conditions forecast for Tuesday as 'dire', the RFS described the threat of lives and homes being lost as 'very real.'
'We've got big population centres covered by that catastrophic fire danger - but also up on the north coast where we've simply got a lot of fires burning at the moment, those fires have got a real potential to run and impact on lives and properties,' spokesman Anthony Clark told the ABC. © Provided by Associated Newspapers LimitedIt's the first time a catastrophic fire warning has been declared for the greater Sydney region
Large areas of the state are also predicted to see 'severe and extreme fire danger.'
'This includes in the north coast and northern NSW areas, where there is a large number of fires already burning. These fires will not be contained in time and will threaten lives and properties,' the RFS warned.
A statewide total fire ban has been declared for Monday and Tuesday.
'We are ramping up for probably another 50 trucks full of crews to be deployed into NSWon Monday night ahead of conditions on Tuesday, NSW Rural Fire Service Commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons told reporters
'We have seen the gravity of the situation unfold... What we can expect is those sorts of conditions to prevail across a much broader geographic area as we head into Tuesday.'
Moisture levels of trees and shrubs around Sydney are lower than during the Black Christmas fires of 2001, according to Hawkesbury Institute for the Environment fire researcher Rachael Nolan.
'We already knew it was going to be bad' even before Tuesday's declaration of 'catastrophic' fire dangers for the Sydney and Newcastle regions, Dr Nolan told the Sydney Morning Herald.
'We're seeing many reports of entire hill slopes of trees dying.'
'What this means is that there's lots of dead leaves on the trees and sitting on the surface of shrubs and on the ground. These dead leaves make the vegetation as a whole very dry, and therefore highly flammable.'
Residents are warned to prepare to evacuate early and head to town centres and other safe places on Monday. Pictured: Firefighters in Taree © Provided by Associated Newspapers Limited
More than 60 bush fires continued to burn across the state on Sunday night as conditions eased, with all of the blazes at 'advice' and 'watch and act' alert levels.
Just under half are still not under control.
'We're simply not going to contain many of those fires before the bad conditions do hit on Tuesday,' Mr Clark told ABC.
Schools in identified high risk areas will be closed and the RFS advises those in the areas of catastrophic fire danger to avoid bushfire-prone areas.
More than 40 schools in NSW will also be closed on Monday due to the impact of the fires in the state's north.
Parents, carers and staff should not put themselves at risk by travelling if in doubt about whether their school will be open, the department said.
Education Minister Sarah Mitchell said students sitting their HSC should contact their school if unsure if exams will occur, or if it is unsafe for them to get to an examination venue.
'Students unable to attend an examination due to the bushfires will not be disadvantaged,' she said in a statement.
The bushfires tragically claimed life of dairy cattle farmer Julie Fletcher, 63, whose body was found in the burnt out remains of her Johns River home near Taree on Saturday afternoon.
She had her car packed with possessions, ready to evacuate but didn't make it out in time.
Grandmother of six Vivian Chaplain also died while trying to save her Wytaliba property more than 400 kilometres away near Glen Innes while the body of another local, George Nole, was found in a burnt-out car on Saturday morning.
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