NSW awakes to sweltering temperatures
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Residents in NSW areas with a "catastrophic" fire danger have woken up to sweltering temperatures, as the Rural Fire Service urges people to leave early.
The Southern Ranges and Illawarra/Shoalhaven areas have been given the highest possible fire danger rating on Tuesday, and the RFS reached 1 million phones in the area on Monday night to issue safety advice.
Early start ... exercise groups train at sunrise to beat the heat on Bronte Beach. Photo: Getty Images
At Albion Park it was 30.8 degrees at 6.30am and 30.9 at Nowra, while other towns in the area were all in the mid 20s.
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RFS commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons said those temperatures were not good news for firefighters.
"It's shaping up to be a very difficult day," Mr Fitzsimmons told 702 ABC Sydney.
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"In the catastrophic areas, leaving early is your safest option. It's not about people leaving the big regional centres – we're talking about those that are in bushfire-prone areas.
"Even homes that are well-prepared and well-designed are not designed and expected to withstand the potential fire behaviour and conditions under the forecast.
"It is about making sure at-risk residents leave the area early so they're not where the fire impact is likely to be."
A helicopter dumps water to protect farm buildings at Oura, near Wagga Wagga. Photo: Les Smith
Surrounding areas, including Sydney, the Central Ranges and further west, have been declared "extreme".
In Sydney, where it is expected to reach 43, Terrey Hills residents woke to a temperature of 24, while it was 22 at Sydney Airport and 21 in the city.
Mr Fitzsimmons said there were reports that many people were leaving the "catastrophic" areas, camping grounds had been closed down and tourists had decided to pack up early and leave.
Many residents had decided to visit family away from the problem areas, he said.
A total fire ban has been declared statewide, and all national parks, state forests and reserves have been closed to the public.
Overnight, firefighters battled two major bushfires in Wagga Wagga and the Shoalhaven.
A grass fire at Oura, 14 kilometres east of Wagga Wagga, was controlled by more than 100 volunteers after it burnt out 870 hectares.
In the Deans Gap area, about 40 kilometres west of Jervis Bay, a fire had burnt out six hectares and crews worked through the night to contain it ahead of the worsening fire conditions.
Mr Fitzsimmons said there were about 100 fires burning in NSW and 20 remained uncontained on Tuesday morning.
"[The uncontained fires] could be influenced by the adverse weather and take a run and obviously that's what the firefighters have been working on.
"We don't have any fires causing immediate threat at the moment. A lot of them are in very difficult to access terrain and that always presents problems.
"At this stage we've not got anything immediately threatening properties, but clearly as the weather conditions develop today we're going to have to monitor that closely."