Astronomical cost of NSW bushfires as 250 homes confirmed lost

More residents have been told to leave their homes as sweltering conditions across Australia’s east coast has once again ramped up fire ratings to severe.

Firefighters fear more homes could be destroyed, with current figures standing at more than 250 houses lost in NSW and 16 in Queensland.

A total of four people have died in the bushfires.

The Insurance Council of Australia said insurers had received 900 claim applications so far, with initial losses totalling $100 million.

There are more than 60 blazes still burning across Queensland, with firefighters facing high temperatures and hot, dry westerly winds on Friday and into the weekend.

Firefighters across NSW and Queensland are pushed to their limits once again on Friday. Source: AAP
Firefighters across NSW and Queensland are pushed to their limits once again on Friday. Source: AAP

Leave now warnings in place for residents of Woodgate and nearby Kinkuna Waters, south of Bundaberg. A third leave now warning has been issued for Thornside, west of Gympie.

The temperature high predicted in Bundaberg on Friday is 31, rising to 32 on Saturday.

The Cobraball fire near Yeppoon in central Queensland continues to worry authorities given the difficult weather conditions expected in coming days.

The blaze, which destroyed 15 of the 16 homes lost in Queensland over the past week, is 90 per cent contained but that could change when high winds arrive.

Damage assessments are continuing with Queensland Fire and Emergency Services saying the number of homes lost could rise.

A burnt out car at Possum Brush in the Mid North Coast region of NSW. Source: AAP
A burnt out car at Possum Brush in the Mid North Coast region of NSW. Source: AAP

But QFES assistant commissioner Tony Johnstone says crews have done a remarkable job protecting property.

"It's really hard to say how many houses we've saved but I'd say in excess of 300 or 400," he told ABC radio.

High temperatures wreaking havoc

Temperatures near major fire grounds across Queensland are expected to soar beyond 30C on Friday and into the weekend.

Almost the entire state is facing high or very high fire danger on Friday and there's a chance of severe thunderstorms in the southeast that will produce little rain.

The drought-stricken Darling Downs and Granite Belt region, west of Brisbane, is facing severe fire danger for at least the next three days.

Temperatures on Saturday in Toowoomba will rise to 34C.

Australia is predicted to have a hotter than average summer. Source: AAP
Australia is predicted to have a hotter than average summer. Source: AAP

Former QFES commissioner Lee Johnson is among 23 fire and emergency services leaders demanding urgent federal action to phase out fossil fuels that are driving climate change and elevating Australia's bushfire risks.

He says cyclones and floods - not fires - have always been Queensland's primary threats, but that's changing.

"In my 40 years' experience I don't recall ever losing this amount of property at the start of a fire season, and it's not over yet. Something has changed and it's not good," he told ABC radio on Friday.

Noosa mayor Tony Wellington says his constituents are angry and frustrated that a lack of action on climate change has left them facing unprecedented fire threats.

He says councils need extra funding for dedicated disaster management staff.

"At the moment our local disaster controller is simply one of our key staff - one of our executive directors," he told the ABC.

"For the last two weeks in particular, but also over the last two months, they haven't been able to carry on with their regular duties because they're dealing with fire issues."

Meteorologist Livio Remano has never seen such extreme conditions in the 20 years he has worked with the Bureau of Meteorology, saying higher than average temperatures were predicted throughout the summer.

NSW bushfire dangers rises

The fire danger rating has risen to severe in parts of NSW as hot, dry and windy conditions return to bushfire-hit areas and a fresh emergency warning is issued for the Hawkesbury.

The warning has been issued for a persistent 80,000-hectare blaze at Gospers Mountain, which is now burning in the direction of Colo Heights. Those in the town should leave now towards Wilberforce.

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The Rural Fire Service NSW also confirmed more than 250 homes have been destroyed since Friday, with almost 90 damaged. Some 480 outbuildings and 18 facilities have also been razed.

While conditions eased following a "catastrophic" danger rating earlier in the week, the forecast of hot, dry weather again posed a threat on Friday.

A severe fire danger rating is in place for the far north coast, north coast, Greater Hunter, Greater Sydney Region and Illawarra-Shoalhaven, and large parts of the state are under total fire bans.

Australian billionaire James Packer, meanwhile, has on Friday pledged $1 million to boost RFS resources and equipment budgets.

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