Australia bushfires: Death toll rises to four as wildfires destroy millions of acres of farmland

Sean Morrison
Residents defend a property from a bushfire at Hillsville near Taree, 350km north of Sydney: AFP via Getty Images

A fourth person has been confirmed dead as bushfires continued to ravage New South Wales.

Wildfires have destroyed about 2.5 million acres of farmland and bush across Australia’s east coast over the past week.

The deadly fires are fuelled by tinder-dry conditions after three years of drought that experts say has been exacerbated by climate change.

In its latest update, police said a man's body has been found in burnt-out bushland in New South Wales state.

Residents defend a property from a bushfire at Hillsville near Taree, 350km north of Sydney (AFP via Getty Images)

The death toll from the bushfires now stands at four.

It was not immediately clear when the man, 58, died but the body was found near the town of Kempsey by local residents on Tuesday.

Kempsey is just over 400km (249 miles) north of Sydney, and has suffered under extreme conditions in recent weeks.

Some 300 homes have been destroyed in NSW alone in recent days as flames stretched from the state's north coast to suburban Sydney.

Bushfires are common in Australia's hot, dry summers, but the ferocity and early arrival of the fires in the southern spring this year has caught many by surprise.

While conditions across the east have eased, temperatures across the country's west coast are forecast to soar on Thursday.

Authorities said they were monitoring a fire on the outskirts of Karratha, a major gas-processing hub on Australia's west coast.

Temperatures are forecast to hit 43C on Thursday in nearby Port Hedland, the world's largest iron ore export hub.

The fires have sparked increasingly acrimonious debate over climate and fire-prevention policies.

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