Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison has announced 3,000 reserve troops will be deployed to help tackle raging bushfires across the country.
Defence Minister Linda Reynolds said this is the first time this had happened in Australia’s history.
Temperatures surpassed 40C (104F) in parts of south-east Australia on Saturday as fires ravaged through homes and land.
Since September, the fires in Australia have killed at least 23 people.
Dozens of people are missing and some 1,500 homes have already been lost this fire season.
“We have seen this disaster escalate to an entirely new level,” Mr Morrison told reporters at a press conference on Saturday.
What happened on Saturday?
Skies reddened and darkened in areas of south-eastern Australia as wind gusts exacerbated the fires.
Emergency warnings were issued throughout the day urging residents to leave certain areas.
In some places, including the Snowy Mountains, people were told it was too late to evacuate. They were instructed to shelter indoors or in a large clearing or body of water.
In Victoria, three fires converged overnight into a 6,000-hectare blaze.
By the end of the day, 73 new fires had started and 53 were still burning. Of these, 13 were classed as emergency fires.
Authorities said 900,000 hectares (2.2m acres) were burnt out.
In some good news, the number of people reported unaccounted for in the state reduced from 28 to six.
In New South Wales (NSW), about 100 fires are currently burning.
According to the Rural Fire Service Commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons, more than half are not contained.
He said earlier in the day that Saturday would be “a long and difficult day for everybody”.
Several power lines went down in Snowy Region and residents were urged to reduce unnecessary electricity usage.
Phone lines are down in some areas of the state, according to 9 News.
Tens of thousands of properties lost power in Batemans Bay and Moruya region, although many of these were restored later in the day.
Fires on Kangaroo Island in the state of South Australia killed two people – a well-known pilot named Dick Lang and his son, Clayton.
A quarter of the island has been ravaged by fire. South Australia state premier Steven Marshall said much of Flinders Chase National Park had been “taken out” by bushfires.
Some footage showed bushfires generating their own weather systems, including tornadoes and thunderstorms.
NSW has declared a week-long state of emergency. Tens of thousands of residents and holidaymakers have been told to evacuate coastal areas, where a “tourist leave zone” has been declared.