Australia's government is living in a parallel universe with its attitude to climate change - and there's a growing sense of despair over its response to the fire crisis, a top firefighter says.
Greg Mullins has been a professional firefighter for more than 40 years - he was the New South Wales Fire Chief from 2003 to 2017 and is now back on the frontlines as a volunteer.
In April he warned that more action was needed ahead of the bushfire season but he says the Australian government failed to act then - and it's failing to act now.
Just off the front line of one of the fires in the Blue Mountains, Mullins told RNZ'sCheckpoint Australian Prime Minster Scott Morrison was being completely dismissive of climate change.
"It's really galling to hear the political dialouge in Australia ... the political dialouge is trying to downplay the role of climate change."
"It's like they [politicians] live in a parallel universe ... the public is getting asthma, getting hospitalised because of the smoke in major cities, it's just relentless."
In the past 20 years, the winter rainfall had reduced by 15 to 20 percent along the eastern seaboard, and it was getting worse, he said.
"Our temperatures have gone up of course by a bit over one degree - what that means is that the extremes are far more extreme so this week we've smashed the average temperature records for Australia on three separate days ... by one full degree - that's unheard of."
Lightning strikes from storms without rain are causing fires too, he said.
"The other day we had a safety alert. We had to pull out of the bush because we had pyro-convective activity - so, the bushfires formed their own thunderstorms which resulted in erratic winds, lightning, and frankly you can lose your life pretty quickly in conditions like that - so really, really extreme."
All the firefighters could do was steer the fires around properties, he said, and he personally had fought 20-30 metre flames on some occassions.
"You can't contain these fires."
The usual method of control was backburning, he said, but it only took one spark in dry conditions for the fire to jump over the road or the river being used as a containment line.
Three times as many homes had been lost this season compared to the worst fire season in the past 120 years or so, he said.
"Why are they so much worse yet the government can't admit that they might have been wrong? ... it's really worrying to me," he said.
"What we're saying is it's immoral not to do something for future generations, the horse has bolted out of the gate in extreme weather events driven by climate change."
He called on Morrison to take stronger action to reduce emissions and pay up for a transition out of the coal mining industry.
"The whole world needs to take this seriously, and our Prime Minister is not stepping up and I'm gobsmacked. He won't listen to fire chiefs, he won't listen to anyone, he's just stuck on his narrative now that he's finally come back from holidays."