(CNN) -- Hundreds of homes have been destroyed or damaged by dozens of major bush fires raging in eastern Australia, officials said.
And they fear it could get much worse.
The 57 unrelenting blazes have scorched more than 109,000 hectares (269,000 acres), said Matt Sun, spokesman for the New South Wales Rural Fire Service. Fourteen of the fires are out of control, officials said.
"These conditions that we are looking at are a whole new ballgame and in a league of their own," said the commissioner of rural fire services, Shane Fitzsimmons. "The predictive charts indicate that there will be a significant impact on populated areas should all these forecasts materialize."
The situation is so bad that New South Wales Premier Barry O'Farrell declared a state of emergency for the state, which includes Sydney. The declaration gives firefighters special authority as conditions worsen.
"These powers include the right to order the public to leave or to enter an area, the right to shore up or demolish a building, and of course it also prevents people from disobeying an order given under these powers," O'Farrell said Sunday.
At least one death has been reported. A 63-year-old man died of a suspected heart attack Friday while defending his home against a blaze on the New South Wales Central Coast, the Australian Broadcasting Corporation reported.
Walter Lindner collapsed while working alongside his neighbor to save his heritage-listed homestead, according to ABC.
Authorities say one of the blazes, the Springwood fire, destroyed at least 193 homes and damaged another 109. In the Mount Victoria fire, seven homes have been destroyed and one damaged, the New South Wales Rural Fire Service said in a statement (PDF).
About 1,300 firefighters were tackling the blazes Sunday evening.
One man told Seven Network in New South Wales that the fire didn't claim every building.
"The house survived; the shed didn't. Next door is just a pile of sticks in the air with a roof on it," he said.
Forecasters are calling for hot, dry and windy days in the next few days, Seven Network reported.
CNN meteorologist Tom Sater said a front may bring some rain relief to some areas beginning Tuesday.
On Saturday, fire officials said two of the dozens of bush fires burning out of control in New South Wales were sparked by power lines that had been buffeted by strong winds.
Fire investigators were still looking into the cause of the other fires.
Earlier, authorities said they were trying to determine whether one of the fires was caused by a military training exercise. A huge blaze near Lithgow, New South Wales, started October 16 when officials "were conducting an explosive ordnance training activity," the Australian Department of Defense said.
Investigators were trying to determine whether the two events are linked.