After a horror weekend of bushfires two people are unaccounted for in New South Wales, authorities said on Monday.
Rural Fire Service (RFS) Commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons confirmed one person from Bombala near the Victorian border was unaccounted for and one person was missing near Bodalla on the South Coast.
Another 60 properties were destroyed at the weekend.
Officials used a respite on Monday from fires that have killed 24 people across the country’s southeast to race to reopen blocked roads and evacuate people who have been trapped for days.
A second day of light rain and cool winds brought some relief from heatwave-fuelled blazes that ripped through two states over the weekend, but officials warned the hazardous weather conditions were expected to return later in the week.
“There is no room for complacency,” New South Wales state Premier Gladys Berejiklian told reporters on Monday morning. Two people remained missing as around 130 fires continued to burn in the state, though not at a high-alert level.
“This morning it is all about recovery, making sure people who have been displaced have somewhere safe (to go) and it is making sure we have resources to build up the presence on the ground to clean up the roads, clean up where the rubble exists,” Berejiklian said.
Despite the welcome change, officials have warned that the light rain would prove no match for the fires still burning.
“It certainly is a welcome reprieve, it is psychological relief if nothing else,” Fitzsimmons said in an afternoon briefing on the situation. “But unfortunately it is not putting out the fires.”
Haze from the fires was turning skies orange as far away as New Zealand at the weekend, with local police having to tell people to not call the emergency phone number.
In Canberra, officials asked for 100,000 extra breathing masks from the national stockpile as the capital recorded the worst air quality in the world on Sunday, according to the IQAir AirVisual global index.
This fire season 5.25 million hectares of land has been burnt, half a billion animals are feared to have perished, thousands of people have been evacuated from holiday beaches, and more than 1300 homes have been destroyed.
The federal government announced an unprecedented call up of army reservists to support firefighters with Army personnel beginning to dig graves to bury more than one hundred thousand sheep and cattle killed in the bushfires.
Sonali Paul and Jonathan Barrett contributed to this report.