Armed forces may help with bushfires: PM

PM Scott Morrison says armed forces may be called out to help during NSW's bushfire emergency.
PM Scott Morrison says armed forces may be called out to help during NSW's bushfire emergency.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison says the armed forces may be called out to help during NSW's unprecedented bushfire emergency as he warned the death toll was likely to rise.

Mr Morrison on Saturday said Australian Defence Force reservists could be deployed "if necessary" as emergency services battle some 80 blazes from the mid-north coast to the Queensland border.

Two people are confirmed dead near Glen Innes while seven people are missing in the New England region.

"These fires have already claimed two lives and we're expecting worse news as the day unfolds," Mr Morrison told reporters at Kirribilli House.

"There have been hundreds of properties that have been destroyed and as we get access to further areas that have been cut off we're expecting worse news again."

Mr Morrison said ADF reservists could potentially work on firebreaks as well as help with accommodation and catering logistics, for example.

But he stressed they would not actively help with fighting fires on the ground.

The ADF is providing airlift support with Lockheed C-130s out of Adelaide and the RAAF fleet of Boeing Business Jets.

Conditions are expected to worsen across NSW in the coming days with temperatures in the mid to high 30s forecast on Tuesday.

"These fires will burn for some time. They will hopefully be able to be brought back to a more manageable level (but) the fires will continue to present a risk for some weeks to come."

Emergency Management Australia on Saturday convened a meeting of state and territory fire and emergency service chiefs.

The PM said disaster recovery would start flowing in the form of $1000 payments to individual adults and $400 for children.

Asked whether this year's unprecedented fires were linked to climate change, the Liberal leader replied: "My only thoughts today are with those who have lost their lives and their families, the firefighters who are fighting the fires (and) the response effort that has to be delivered."

Australian Associated Press