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"There is a long way to go": Firefighters battle more than 100 bushfires in Australia

Deadly wildfires ravage drought-stricken Australia

Firefighters in Australia are battling more than 100 bushfires in New South Wales and Queensland, officials said Monday. At least three people have died in New South Wales since Friday.

Thousands have already been evacuated as officials warned there could be "catastrophic" conditions Tuesday in Sydney, the country's largest city, and Hunter. Temperatures are expected to reach nearly 100 degrees Tuesday, according to BBC News.

"Under these conditions, these fires will spread quickly and threaten homes and lives," New South Wales Rural Fire Service said in a statement.

"There is a long way to go and Tuesday is looking more difficult," Prime Minister Scott Morrison said in a televised press conference. "And that is not only trickier in New South Wales, we know of similar types of conditions that we are seeing in Western Australia on Tuesday as well."

Old Bar, New South Wales bushfire
A firefighter on property protection watches the progress of bushfires in Old Bar, New South Wales, Australia, on November 9, 2019. Shane Chalker via Reuters

According to the Rural Fire Service, firefighters were battling 64 fires in New South Wales as of 6 a.m. Monday, and 40 were not contained.  "Many of these fires won't be contained ahead of tomorrow's dangerous fire weather," the Rural Fire Service tweeted. "Use today to get ready."

Schools in vulnerable areas will be closed and firefighters from New Zealand have been flown in to help as weary emergency crews prepare for a fresh onslaught, BBC News said.

Fire officials in New South Wales said more than 150 homes have been destroyed.  

Further north in Queensland, more than 50 fires raged, according to the Reuters news agency. Although fire conditions were expected to be more favorable Monday, Queensland Fire and Emergency warned residents bushfire conditions will escalate Tuesday and throughout the week.

Thousands of residents have been evacuated in Queensland. 

"There is really no rainfall, no significant rainfall, until at least the end of the year and possibly into the new year," Queensland Fire and Emergency Services acting commissioner Mike Wassing said Sunday at a news conference. 

Conservationists said at the end of October that hundreds of koalas may have died when a bushfire tore through a New South koala habitat. 

A burnt koala named Anwen
A burnt koala named Anwen, rescued from Lake Innes Nature Reserve, receives formula at the Port Macquarie Koala Hospital ICU in Port Macquarie, Australia, on November 7, 2019. Reuters
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