More homes are believed to have been destroyed by bushfires in southeastern NSW where hundreds of properties have already been lost in blazes this summer.
Strong winds and high temperatures on Saturday night pushed the massive 177,000-hectare Border fire north towards Bega Valley while three separate blazes burning southwest of the region merged into one.
Bega Valley Shire Council Mayor Kristy McBain said an unconfirmed number of homes were lost in Wyndham and Tantawangalo in the blazes.
“This pushes our total losses in Bega Valley to well over 400,” she told AAP on Sunday.
“It’s hard for people because this has been going on for 34 days and counting. We had homes lost on day one and day 34 we are still losing homes.”
Ms McBain said cooler weather gave some reprieve to the community on Sunday but a south westerly wind is expected on Monday which residents fear will cause more problems for the area.
“Everyone is just catching their breath today before tomorrow afternoon it flares up again,” she said.
NSW Rural Fire Service spokesman Greg Allan said there have been reports of property loss from Saturday’s fires but building impact assessment teams haven’t been able to access firegrounds yet.
Cooler conditions on Sunday resulted in reduced fire activity across most firegrounds but the RFS is worried thunderstorms and lightning strikes could produce new ignitions.
The out-of-control Clear Range blaze, created from embers that spread from the ACT’s large Orroral Valley fire, was the only fire at “watch and act” alert level on Sunday evening.
There are unconfirmed reports of five structures lost when that fire flared up on Saturday night.
Bureau of Meteorology meteorologist Abrar Shabren said thunderstorms are possible around the ACT on Sunday with the potential of fires creating their own thunderstorm clouds in the area.
“(That) can make things quite difficult and cause erratic fire behaviour,” he said on Sunday.
Conditions are expected to ease on Monday with cooler weather forecast in southern NSW and the possibility of rain in the state’s north later in the week.
There is a very high fire danger for most of the state on Monday.
There were 70 fires burning in NSW as of Sunday evening with 30 not yet contained.