Prime Minister Julia Gillard has praised the miraculous work of firefighters battling hundreds of blazes in Tasmania, Victoria and NSW, but another miracle might be needed if Australia is to remain fatality-free through a second heatwave later this week.
The fires have caused at least $60 million in damage, mostly in Tasmania, where 128 homes have been lost and 80,000 hectares burnt - one per cent of the island state's land mass.
The Insurance Council of Australia estimates the cost in Tasmania at $49 million, with damage of $9 million in Victoria, where eight homes were destroyed by a grass fire in the state's central west.
But no deaths have been recorded, and NSW survived its gravest day of fire danger ever on Tuesday with only one home lost. Cooler temperatures on Wednesday helped 2000 firefighters stay on top of a dangerous situation in NSW. No emergency alerts were in force, although 141 fires were still alight, 31 of them yet to be contained, after burning 345,000 hectares.
The prime minister praised the nation's firefighters and volunteers for "absolutely working a miracle".
But authorities warned against complacency as the heatwave threat spread north and temperatures were expected to climb back over 40 degrees again on Friday.
"This fire crisis is not over," warned NSW Premier Barry O'Farrell on a tour of Yass shire, where bushfires killed some 10,000 sheep, amounting to a $1 million loss for farmers. NSW Rural Fire Service Commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons said the spread wil be extensive.
"We are going to see severe fire dangers extending from the Greater Hunter all the way to the Queensland border and all the way out to our western areas in places like Moree," Mr Fitzsimmons said.
Four NSW fires were still causing concern on Wednesday afternoon - one with a 44km perimeter at Dean's Gap near Nowra, a 16,000ha scrub fire near Yass, a 9000ha blaze in the Kybean Valley, near Cooma, and a 40ha outbreak near Lithgow in the Blue Mountains.
In western Victoria, police confirmed a 1100ha fire had destroyed eight homes, including the 120-year-old Carngham Station homestead, and killed up to 1000 head of livestock.
The Country Fire Authority said cooler conditions had brought relief to firefighters, who were building earth breaks to contain the fire before warmer temperatures forecast for Friday.
At least six people, including a Carngham father and son who suffered radiation burns to their faces and hands, were admitted to the Ballarat Base Hospital for treatment.
A 6000ha bushfire at Kentbruck in Victoria's far southwest continued to burn but was not threatening any communities.
But around 600 firefighters were at the blaze hoping to use milder weather on Wednesday and Thursday to get the upper hand before a return to severe conditions on Friday.
In Tasmania, the Tasman Peninsula remained isolated, with the Arthur Highway and several other major thoroughfares closed.
Hundreds of people remained at evacuation centres in Nubeena and at the Port Arthur historic site.
Energy supplier Aurora said thousands of staff were working to restore power to the area but warned residents could be in blackout for weeks to come.