Scorching heat baking Australia eased on Monday bringing relief from extreme bushfires, which destroyed around 180 houses and killed one person over the weekend, allowing firefighters to prepare for worsening conditions post-Christmas.
Six people have now died in bushfires which have destroyed more than 3.7 million hectares (9.1 million acres) across five states.
The town of Balmoral, population 400 and 150 houses, was virtually destroyed, the New South Wales (NSW) State Premier Gladys Berejiklian said.
Australia has been fighting wildfires for months as hot, dry conditions brought about an early start to the fire season.
Australia posted record temperatures over 41 degrees Celsius (105 Celsius) last week as an extreme heatwave swept across the country and a long-running drought in the country’s east has created tinder-dry conditions.
Nearly 100 fires are burning across New South Wales state.
Temperatures are forecast to spike again in many states by the weekend, with the South Australian capital city of Adelaide forecast to reach 39 Celsius (102.2 Fahrenheit), according to the Bureau of Meteorology. Similar temperatures are expected in the Victorian city of Melbourne.