Almost 2,000 houses have been destroyed in Australia’s months-long bushfire crisis, officials say, as crews prepare frantically for worsening conditions.
After ferocious conditions last week, firefighters are using milder weather to boost containment lines around fires engulfing south-eastern Australia.
Temperatures are likely to soar again on Friday, prompting fears that two fires could form a new “mega blaze”.
At least 25 people and millions of animals have died since September.
Australia is fighting an unprecedented bushfire season, fuelled by record temperatures and widespread drought.
On Tuesday, New South Wales (NSW) officials said fires there had claimed 1,588 homes and damaged 653 more.
About 200 homes have been destroyed in neighbouring Victoria, adding to more than 100 lost in other states.
The Insurance Council of Australia estimated the damage bill had reached A$700m (£370m; $485m), but said it expected the cost to rise significantly.