Sydney, Australia -- The number of homes destroyed by bush fires in Australia's New South Wales is expected rise in the coming days as high temperatures and strong winds are set to return, the NSW Rural Fire Service said on Saturday.
The RFS said 193 homes have been razed to the ground and more than 100 others damaged in just two fires in the Blue Mountains west of Sydney on Thursday and Friday. Hopes for rain were fading.
"The optimism we had for good widespread rain seems to be disappearing and at best we're talking about some showers across different areas later in the week," says RFS Commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons.
Around 1500 fire-fighters are tackling more than 70 fires across the state, including several that are threatening property and described as uncontained.
Prime Minister Tony Abbott announced a financial aid package for those who've lost their homes.
Some whose homes have already been reduced to ashes are just coming to terms with the loss.
"I said to my husband I remember when you carried me across the threshold, I remember having all my babies here. All of that hard work that we put into everything for all the years and it's just gone. And you think 'I'm 54 now and I've got to start again' but we will, as a family, together," said Christine Senior, Yellow Rock resident.
The Australian Defense Department said it is investigating whether a large fire near Lithgow, west of Sydney, is linked to explosive ordnance training that was taking place in the area at the time the fire started.