Dry summer weather, combined with exceptionally warm conditions and strong, gusty winds, has resulted in scores of bushfires in several Australian states.

Victoria and New South Wales have been particularly badly affected.

In New South Wales, firefighters have battled more than 40 blazes threatening homes in Williamstown, north of Newcastle.

In Victoria, several fires broke out near the towns of Epping, Elaine and Scotsburn.

In Epping, a fire was burning along the Hume freeway, the main road between Melbourne and Sydney. The Scotsburn fire, which has been burning for at least three days, is known to have destroyed at least six homes.

The Country Fire Authority reported that one firefighter had been injured, but that no lives had been lost. Nevertheless, several firefighters were said to be struggling to cope with the extreme temperatures and strong winds.

In northern Victoria, a number of towns have been threatened by an out-of-control bushfire near the Indigo Valley. Emergency warnings have been issued for the communities of Leneva, Leneva West, Yackandandah, Wooragee and Indigo Upper.

Eastern Australia was always likely to be at an elevated risk of bushfires this summer because of the strong El Nino.

Bushfires are a constant summer threat in Australia. In 2009 a heatwave in South Australia led to an outbreak of fires in which 173 people lost their lives.

Although cooler weather has returned to much of southeastern Australia, it will become hotter and windier later in the week, suggesting that bushfires could be making the headlines for some time to come.