Sixty fires are already burning across New South Wales as an unrelenting heatwave and strong gusty winds have renewed fears for already bushfire ravaged towns on the south coast.
Properties could be under threat as dangerous bushfire conditions are set to worsen along the southern slopes, southern ranges, far South Coast, Monaro Alpine, Illawarra and Shoalhaven regions, where total fire bans have been declared for today.
RFS Commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons said firefighters on the front line have already seen “pretty significant fire behaviour” this morning.
“We are going to have another difficult and dangerous day, particularly down in south eastern NSW where we have got five total fire ban areas which effectively encapsulate everything in the south-east of the state around ACT and down to the southern border,” he told Today.
Mr Fitzsimmons said the firefront is headed toward communities and reminded residents to leave before conditions get out of control.
A map has been released that shows where fires are expected to spread to, although due to the unpredictable nature of the blazes, conditions could change quickly.
According to the Bureau of Meteorology, temperatures are expected to soar across the state.
In Penrith and Richmond the mercury could hit 46C, while further north in Gloucester residents will experience 41C heat.
It’s expected to remain in the low 40s around the Hunter region, including Singleton and Scone.
The Illawarra region will be sweltering through temperatures between 33C and 40C.
On the South Coast, where towns were razed by fires over December and early January, residents are not expected to have any reprieve with 40C temperatures forecast.
Bureau of Meteorology acting NSW manager Jane Golding said high temperatures coupled with strong winds will create very high fire danger.
“With the heat comes the fires,” Ms Golding said.
The RFS said heatwave conditions are expected to be at their worst today.
“[Saturday] will be the peak of the heatwave in NSW with some areas expected to reach extreme heatwave conditions,” the RFS said.
“Thunderstorms, which have the potential to start new fires, are forecast for a large portion of NSW.”
A 28,000-hectare bushfire burning in the ACT is expected to jump into NSW on at some point this morning.