MOUNT VICTORIA, Australia - Firefighters in Australia battled hot, dry winds and soaring temperatures Wednesday as new blazes began breaking out in a week-long bushfire disaster that shows no signs of easing.
As the crisis entered its seventh day, at least 65 fires were raging across the state of New South Wales with 18 of them uncontained and warnings again issued for people to leave their homes or be extra vigilant.
"On days like today, minutes really matter," NSW Rural Fire Service Commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons said, with the focus again on the Blue Mountains region west of Sydney, a popular tourist area home to 75,000 people where three huge infernos have been burning for days.
One of them, in Springwood where more than 100 homes were lost last week, was upgraded to the highest "emergency" level.
But fires were also breaking out elsewhere around the vast state with a blaze at Minmi near Newcastle, north of Sydney, which was deemed an "emergency" as it closed the main freeway that links the two cities and sparked traffic chaos.
"If you are Minmi, follow your survival plan. If your plan is to leave, leave now," the RFS said.
Another blaze at Colo, to the northwest of Sydney, was burning aggressively with water-bombing aircraft attempting to bring it under control, although the high winds were hampering the effort.
"It's a very fluid situation. It's a very dynamic situation," said the fire chief.
So far more than 120,000 hectares (296,500 acres) of land has been burnt across the state and more than 200 homes destroyed. But only one person has died as residents heed advice to either flee or head to evacuation centres.
Temperatures were at the mid-30 degrees Celsius range Wednesday and coupled with low humidity and forecast wind gusts of up to 100 kilometres (62 miles) per hour, the fire chief called the conditions "as bad as it gets".