A series of "unprecedented" bushfires are raging through Australia's southeastern state of New South Wales, with two people dead and more than 1,000 firefighters battling five emergency-level blazes and risky conditions.
Shane Fitzsimmons, New South Wales Fire Service Commissioner, said they have sent out more than 1,000 firefighters and over 70 aircrafts working on the fires, as well as dozens of heavy planter machinery. She was in an absolute panic.
Authorities in the state warn that many fires will continue to burn unless there is more rain.
"We still haven't got intelligence from a number of the fire grounds that we know have been impacted dramatically", Fitzsimmons told Nine Network television.
"Before I even got to tell her to just get out, she'd hung up on me".
The new mother and her son were able to escape the blaze, while her partner's parents stayed back to try and fight for their home and animals.
"It used to be God's country, but it ain't any more", said another neighbour, 72-year-old Dave Scott. "She was wonderful. She was such a strong, loving woman".
"We cant seem to win", the organization posted on Facebook.
Ms Colligan and her partner Ryan Thornhill are now staying in an Air BnB near Taree as they try to work out how to rebuild their lives. The local man's name has not been released.
At least five schools have closed due to the fires. "Their paws might be healing up but if something's going on that we can't see, there's not really much we can do", added Gordon, who has worked at the hospital for 15 years.
Several people are still said to be unaccounted for and 30 more have been injured - mostly firefighters forced to work for hours on end in smokey, hot and smouldering scrubland and blazing forests of towering eucalyptus.
"At this stage, it appears at least 100 homes have been destroyed in yesterday's bush fires", the fire service said in an update early Saturday. Residents could not yet return because of the dangers of fire, smoke and loose asbestos in the rubble, the statement said.
So far there have been no reports of fatalities, although there were reports of buildings set alight and people trapped in their homes.
Forster is 300 kilometres north of Sydney.
Thousands of people are now being housed across evacuation centres across the states, mostly in leisure centres, libraries and in one case, a basketball court.
About 50 bushfires are also blazing in the neighboring state of Queensland.
David Littleproud, the minister for natural disaster and emergency management is on the ABC announcing disaster recovery payments of $1,000 for adults and $400 for children will be made available through Centrelink for people affected by the fires in Queensland and New South Wales from midday today.
The Insurance Council of Australia declared the wildfire crisis a "catastrophe", meaning insurance claims will be given priority.
The body of one person was found in a vehicle near the town of Glen Innes on the state's far North Coast.
"It was pretty scary", Stewart said.