16 Aug 2018

NSW fires burn amid drought conditions

10:04 am on 16 August 2018

An out-of-control bushfire is continuing to threaten properties in southern New South Wales, despite easing conditions.

The whole of the state was declared in drought last week and the dry conditions and strong winds fanned the blazes yesterday.

Emergency workers help residents leave homes as smoke from the Nowra fire blankets the area.

Photo: Screenshot / ABC video / http://www.abc.net.au/news/

Authorities in the state issued emergency warnings for several bushfires.

Last night, a blaze near Bega was threatening properties and some people had been told it was "too late to leave".

The fire had blackened 2300 hectares of land - much of it inaccessible - but it was downgraded to watch and act level before 8pm.

Two other fires - in Budawang National Park near Ulladulla and Nowra - also contributed to a hectic day for crews.

The fire near Nowra destroyed outbuildings and forced homes to be evacuated, but that threat had now eased. The blaze at Mount Kingiman, near Ulladulla, had burned through more than 1100 hectares.

NSW rural fire service deputy commissioner Rob Rogers said the fires at Bega and Ulladulla were "quite big" and would stay uncontained for "some time".

"It'll be days and days to try and get containment of both of those fires," he said.

Earlier, dozens of fire trucks lined streets as people covered their faces at Bomaderry, near Nowra, as they tried to avoid breathing the plumes of smoke that were rising above homes.

Emergency service workers clambered over fences in a bid to alert local residents about the danger.

The Snowy Mountains Highway was closed between Kameruka Lane and the Princes Highway.

No homes have been destroyed in any of the fires.

Conditions in NSW are dry. Last week 100 per cent of the state was declared either "in drought" or "drought affected".

Mr Rogers said the drought was making a huge difference for firefighters.

"We do get fires in August, but the big difference is 100 per cent of the state is in drought and these winds are making the fires so difficult to suppress," he said.

"It is a really early start to these severe fires, and it's only really been three months since the last serious fire we had, which was in April."

There is a total fire ban in place for Sydney, Illawarra and the Hunter Valley.