Australia bushfire
© Reuters / AAP Image / Dan Peled
Smoke from a large bushfire near Coffs Harbour, Australia.
As southeastern Australian is ravaged by dozens of wildfires, a nine-year-old boy has admitted to using a blowtorch to start another blaze in the state of New South Wales.

At least three people have died and more than 170 homes have been destroyed by over 70 infernos that are raging in the state. The army is expected to be deployed in one of Australia's largest ever peacetime military mobilizations in an effort to tackle the crisis.

A combination of high temperatures and strong winds may exacerbate the already dire situation as the greater Sydney area has been issued with its first ever "catastrophic" level fire warning.

"Catastrophic is off the conventional scale," the commissioner of the New South Wales rural fire services, Shane Fitzsimmons, explained. "It's where people die."

Local fire crews rushed to fight the fire started by the nine-year-old in Worrigee, south of Wollongong. Police interviewed a group of children and the boy in question subsequently admitted to arson. Because of his young age he was only issued with a warning.

At least nine fires are burning at emergency warning level between North Sydney and the Queensland border while some 70 are currently plaguing the New South Wales region. Authorities in Queensland say another 50 fires are burning across the state.

Meanwhile, a 27-year-old man was issued with an on-the-spot $2,200 for allegedly starting a small campfire west of Sydney and a 35 and 46-year old man were each accused of starting two separate fires by using their barbecues. There are also suspicions a fire in the northern Sydney suburb of Turramurra may have been started deliberately.