The Eurobodalla emergency operations centre said there was active fire in most of the region and urged visitors to delay their travel.
“Many local residents have lost their homes or can’t return to them and these people require accommodation, resources and support,” a community update reads. “Until this Friday’s high fire danger has passed and NSW RFS reassess the forecast, visitors should stay away from the Eurobodalla.”
Croobyar resident Tim Powell said it was a “horrifying experience” when the fire tore through on Saturday.
Mr Powell had been determined to stay and defend his home but decided to evacuate as conditions worsened.
“You always say you’ll defend your property, but when it’s so intense – life is more important than your house,” he said.
He returned on Sunday to find the hills, trees and grass had been burnt – but his home survived.
“I’ve been here my whole life and I’ve never thought I would ever experience this,” he said.
But on Friday, South Coast residents will face dangerous conditions again.
“We just gotta prepare again for that day and be vigilant,” Mr Powell said.
‘Anywhere near fires is a threat’
On Wednesday, the RFS said of the 1687 homes lost across the state, 771 have been destroyed since January 1.
On Thursday, the north western region, southern slopes and northern slopes will face ‘”very high” fire danger ratings, while eight areas will face “high” ratings and 10 locations will face “low-to-moderate” ratings. There are no total fire bans in place.
RFS Commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons defended the agency’s record on hazard reduction burning, saying it had met its targets before the bushfire season.
Several days of cooler conditions have allowed firefighters to reinforce containment lines and conduct backburning operations.
Many towns close to fire grounds have seen rain, which Mr Webster says could create the impression that the fire risk has disappeared.
“Anywhere near fires is a threat,” he said. “There is still uncontained fire which is likely to become activated by strong northwesterly winds [on Friday].”
“Most residents on the far South Coast were enacting bushfire survival plans on Saturday. I ask them to review the plans and how the plans worked out on the day and make sure they are in a position to do the same if not better.”
Bureau of Meteorology forecaster Jordan Notara said most of the state will experience northwesterly winds on Friday, while the South Coast will see northeasterly winds. By late afternoon, a strong southerly change will sweep the state.
“It will be quite a sharp and distinct windy change as it moves across the southerly coastlines,” he said.
Mr Notara said there was also a chance of “gusty” thunderstorms along the Snowy Mountains, South Coast and ACT regions, warning people they should remain vigilant.
Good samaritans ‘gotta do something’
Meanwhile, donations for bushfire affected communities continue to grow, with many good samaritans doing what they can to help out.
Campbelltown resident Robert West said he has been watching the fires and felt he needed to contribute. “You just feel hollow seeing it all,” he said.
He will drive from Campbelltown to the South Coast town of Conjola on Thursday, bringing 50 home cooked meals, 120 P2 masks, batteries, torches, small gas bottles and bales of hay.
He said the latter is vital for many farmers who “are screaming and begging” for the hay.
Australian Defence Force chief of joint operations Lieutenant General Greg Bilton said it continues to work with state-based and federal agencies.
“The tasking of the Australian Defence Force across all three jurisdictions [NSW, Vic and SA] is increasing markedly and there is a far greater demand today than there was yesterday and I expect that to continue,” he said.
Laura is a journalist for The Sydney Morning Herald.