A New Zealand firefighter who's helped co-ordinate firefighting efforts in New South Wales says scale of the fire and the exhaustion facing fire crews is like nothing he's ever seen.
Twenty-six New Zealand firefighters have travelled to New South Wales overnight to help fire crews, following a similar deployment to Queensland last week.
Fire and Emergency Auckland Deputy Principal Rural Fire Officer Scott Marchant has returned from co-ordinating aircraft at the Kempsey and Glen Innes fires in New South Wales.
He told the Herald he had never seen anything like it before.
"I was doing an air attack supervisory role, co-ordinating aircraft from the air to ensure we can get the best possible targets.
"It's catastrophic. It's something I've never seen before and I've been to a lot of fires - the sheer size and devastation.
"The five fires that I was at, out of the 60 that are burning, would be larger in size than the whole Auckland region."
More than 50 bush fires are still burning across New South Wales, and more than 30 are uncontained.
Marchant said the Australian fire crews desperately needed the help New Zealand was providing.
"They're not even into summer yet. They're basically in a defensive mode at the moment. They can't put the fires out - they're just protecting life and property.
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"It's going to be going for months and they're getting tired. Firefighters and pilots and everyone over there have been working for the last two months with fires, and they just need help. That's what we're here to do."
Fire and Emergency national response manager Paul Turner said fighting fires of this magnitude is a hugely demanding task, and New Zealand was keen to do its bit.
"They're tough firefighting conditions over there at the moment. The hot, very dry and windy conditions are causing extreme wildfire behaviour."
Meanwhile, two firefighters have returned after spending eight days across the ditch.
Southern District principal rural fire officer Timo Bierlin, of Invercargill, was based in a camp at Glen Innes, New South Wales, with about 120 others, working as a heavy plant supervisor.
He told the Otago Daily Times it would take some time to process the often heart-breaking incident, after working 14 hour days.
"It's like street fighting. You're pretty much going from incident to incident."
Deputy principal rural fire officer Hamish Angus, of Te Anau, was about 350km away, in Port Macquarie, near the Hastings River, working in the incident management team.
He said a cheese roll, sleep and a hug from his daughters was the only thing he wanted when he got home.
Marchant said Fire and Emergency has support mechanisms in place to support firefighters, and the firefighters also support each other.
- Additional reporting by the Otago Daily Times