Toll rises in Australian wildfires with more danger ahead

SYDNEY (AP) — The death toll for wildfires raging across Australia’s most populous state has risen to four as authorities warned yesterday of worsening weather conditions to come.

A body was found on Wednesday in a scorched forest near the town of Kempsey in northeast New South Wales, police said.

He is suspected to be a 58-year-old man who lived in a nearby shed and had not been seen since last Friday when ferocious wildfires across New South Wales killed three other people and destroyed at least 150 homes.

About 60 fires were burning around New South Wales yesterday morning, with 27 uncontained while being battled by more than 1,000 firefighters, the Rural Fire Service said.

“We had a better day yesterday, only one fire got to emergency warning, but even in these pretty benign conditions we’re seeing quite a lot of aggressive fire behaviour simply because it’s so dry,” Rural Fire Service Deputy Commissioner Rob Rogers told the Seven Network television. “Conditions starting to warm up tomorrow, into the weekend and then heating up early next week, a return to more gusty conditions. We’re in for the long haul,” he added.

United States (US) Ambassador to Australia Arthur Culvahouse Jr said firefighting Tanker 911, a converted McDonnell Douglas DC-10 jet that can drop 35,600 litres of fire retardant, was on its way from New Mexico to the Australian east coast to help.