Progress has been made but emergency services workers are in for another busy night as fires continue to burn across New South Wales.
Hundreds of homes have been destroyed and at least one fatality has been confirmed, after a 63-year-old man collapsed and died trying to defend his home.
Authorities have said there could be bodies found once they are able to search burnt-out homes.
In the worst hit areas, in the Blue Mountains west of Sydney, authorities think as many as 200 houses have been burned down.
According to Fairfax the Insurance Council of Australia has put the initial damage bill at $30 million, but that is expected to grow rapidly. Insurance companies had received 550 claims on Friday afternoon, said the council’s general manager of communication, Campbell Fuller.
“We expect this will climb and climb sharply,” he said.
A short time ago Prime Minister Tony Abbott addressed the media, saying “We are not called a land of droughts and flooding rain, a sun burnt country for nothing”.
Abbott also praised the efforts of firefighters, some of whom have lost their own homes while battling the blazes.
This afternoon Rural Fire Service commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons said 94 fires were still burning across NSW, 27 of which remained uncontained.
While conditions remain difficult for authorities, he also said some residents would soon be able to return to their homes.
“We are acutely aware that there are a lot of people wanting to get back in and see their homes and take stock of what loss there may be.”
He also, according to ABC News, defended the amount of warning some residents were given.
“I’ve made it very clear for months and indeed years, under the sorts of conditions we saw yesterday, I cannot guarantee, and I will not guarantee, that warnings will be out for fires that start and develop and spread quickly on those sorts of days.
“It’s an impossible commitment to make, and it’s a reality of the risks associated with severe and extreme fire danger rating conditions. Fires will start easily and spread extremely quickly.”
Weather conditions are expected to become warmer over the weekend, though winds are not expected to be as strong as they were yesterday. Firefighters have also flown in from interstate to help.
Business Insider Emails & Alerts
Site highlights each day to your inbox.