Australia bushfires: Pregnant firefighter defends decision to fight fires, saying: 'I don't care if you don't like it'

13 November 2019, 06:53 | Updated: 13 November 2019, 11:18

A young pregnant firefighter has defended her decision to continue fighting bushfires raging across Australia, saying: "I don't care if you don't like it."

Kat Robinson-Williams, who is 13 weeks pregnant, posted several images of herself - and a video of her fellow New South Wales Rural Fire Service colleagues in action - on Instagram.

It comes as more than 150 bushfires are continuing to rage across the Australian east coast in the states of New South Wales and Queensland.

Three people have died in the fires, and dozens injured, including 13 firefighters.

Ms Robinson-Williams wrote: "For all the females on the ground in NSW right now. We stand together, we stand proud!

"Yes I am a firefighter, no I'm not a man, Yes I am a female, Yes I am pregnant, Yes I am going to the fires, And yes I'll be alright, no I won't just stay behind."

She also posted a photo of her ultrasound showing her 13-week-old baby, saying: "Little firefighter in the making."

The firefighter received support on social media with people thanking her and describing her as a "legend" and "amazing".

She told the BBC she wrote about her situation on social media because some friends had told her to stop firefighting.

Her GP had also told her it was okay to continue as long as she wore the right equipment, she said.

More than 1.1 million hectares of land have been burnt or is burning in the states.

New South Wales, where families have been evacuated and more than 300 homes destroyed, has declared a state of emergency.

In recent days, flames have stretched from the state's north coast to within metres of homes in Greater Sydney, amid "catastrophic" high winds and searing heat.

As a result, five million people were told to avoid going outside due to the hazardous smoke in the air.

There has been no respite for NSW's northern neighbour Queensland, where around 80 fires are still burning and 14 homes have been destroyed.

Conditions are expected to worsen again next week and NSW Rural Fire Service commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons warned: "We will not have all these fires contained before then.

"We will not have all these fires contained and locked up for many, many weeks.

"Unfortunately, what we need is rain. What we need is meaningful rain. And there is certainly nothing in the forecast for the foreseeable future that's going to make any discernible difference to the conditions that we are experiencing."

An emergency warning has been issued for a bushfire at the popular beach resort of Noosa, about 93 miles south of Brisbane.

Queensland Fire and Emergency Services said: "Conditions are now very dangerous and firefighters may soon be unable to prevent the fire advancing.

"The fire may pose a threat to all lives directly in its path."

Local media reported a water-bombing aircraft working at Pechey, north of Toowoomba in Queensland had crashed in difficult conditions and the pilot had suffered minor injuries.

On Wednesday, Oscar-winning actor Russell Crowe posted images and videos on Twitter of firefighters tackling a blaze near his property near Nana Glen, an inland rural community, north of Sydney in NSW.

The 55-year-old Hollywood superstar said the property had "lost a couple of buildings", some fires were still burning and "we are out of water."

Meanwhile, back in New South Wales, police are investigating a number of the fires that they believe may have been deliberately lit.

In Lismore, almost 500 miles north of Sydney, two men were charged with stealing firefighting equipment, including helmets, uniform patches and documentation.

A third man was charged with stealing equipment and impersonating a firefighter after he was found riding a scooter dressed as a firefighter in Sydney's south.

The forest went up like a fireball

By Siobhan Robbins, SE Asia correspondent, in Australia

The skies around Taree, New South Wales, are thick with smoke. Fat plumes line the hillsides, spiralling from blazing bush.

We survey the damage from a helicopter, over areas around Old Bar and Hillville which have seen some of the most ferocious incidents.

One fire consumed more the 21,000 hectares of land. That's the equivalent of more than 31,000 football pitches. And that's one fire in a tiny pocket of New South Wales, so you can imagine the destruction across this and the neighbouring state of Queensland.

Below us huge areas of scorched earth pockmark the ground as flames continue to eat into bush.

On the road to Old Bar we drive past row after row of blackened trees. The soil they sprout from is now covered in ash.

They surround the backyard of Leanne Waters' house. The fire came through the bush and down into her garden. But she says she's the lucky one as aerial crews managed to get it under control before it destroyed the house.

"You can see it's come inside the pool boundaries and it's literally metres away from those big gas bottles at the back of my house," she says, showing me the damage.

"We are just so lucky that they managed to stop it here because I can't imagine the house would have survived with those gas bottles going up."

While Leanne is back home for the first time, for others it's still not safe. Hundreds now shelter at makeshift evacuation centres, living out of cars and campervans.

Coralie Burnett is here with her eight horses while her husband watches their home. On Tuesday night, he called with terrifying news.

"He rang me to say the forest had gone up and it was like a fireball," she says, her voice faltering.

"The forest near us is really tall and he said the flames were 30 metres higher than the trees as it went through."

Somehow he managed to beat back the flames and save the house but some of the neighbouring properties were totally gutted.

The bushfires on Australia's east coast have already left their scars on thousands of lives and the warning is conditions may worsen again at the weekend, putting many more in their path.