'A horrendous beast': Fire emergency increases in NSW

A mayor on NSW's mid-north coast says bushfires ripping through the region are "horrifying and horrendous beasts" as authorities reveal a number of homes may have been lost.

MidCoast Council mayor David West says he's anguished as residents brace themselves in the face of volatile fire conditions near Taree.

"From my personal perspective, it's horrifying," he told AAP on Friday afternoon.

"I've never felt a sense of anguish that I do now, the fear for my community."

Mr West said a fire near Forster threatened a council building on Thursday night.

"It was literally a wall of yellow, horrible, beastly, tormenting flames," the mayor said.

"It was a horrendous beast."

The mayor - who lives in Brimbin - is particularly concerned about an out-of-control fire burning near Hillville south of Taree.

The NSW Rural Fire Service says that fire has crossed the Pacific Highway and is spreading quickly.

The highway is closed in both directions between Taree and Bulahdelah. The Pacific Highway is also closed at Port Macquarie between the Oxley Highway and Hastings River Drive.

"It (the Hillville fire) moving toward the coast at a fairly rapid rate," Mr West said.

"The area that I live in hasn't been burned in about 30 years. There's a huge amount of fuel load."

A number of schools have been closed in the area due to the bushfires.

MidCoast Council Deputy mayor Claire Pontin - who lives in nearby Hallidays Point - says the area is "tinder dry".

"It's just crispy. In places, you can hear the leaves crunching under your feet."

There are eight emergency warnings current in NSW for fires stretching from just north of Forster to west of Tenterfield near the Queensland border.

The worst fires are at: Hillville, Crowdy Bay National Park, Tapin Tops National Park, Port Macquarie, Willi Willi, the Mistake State Forest in Nambucca and surrounds, Tyringham and Torrington.

RFS Commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons earlier on Friday said two homes had been damaged or destroyed in the fire burning at Stockyard Flat near Walcha with assessors yet to reach the site.

"It is a volatile day and it will remain a volatile day," Mr Fitzsimmons told reporters in Sydney.

"We need vigilance and we need people to be decisive and ready to act in accordance with any direction given by authorities."

Mr Fitzsimmons said the bushfire danger across the state was "at the upper end of the scale", with five total fire bans in place for the New England, far north coast, north coast, Greater Hunter and Northern Slopes regions.

Mr Fitzsimmons said bush and grass fires are currently burning through about 370,000 hectares of NSW land - more than the entire land area burnt last year.

There are nine 'watch and act' alerts in place.

Fire and Rescue NSW Commissioner Paul Baxter said at-risk residents needed to be ready to act.

"Once a fire gets to an emergency alert level we may not be able to get to help you," Mr Baxter told reporters.

"We haven't got the resources to be able to put into every single area so you must be prepared to survive yourself."

The escalated fire risk comes after a man, aged in his 50s, suffered serious burns to his legs and hands while trying to defend his rural property in Yarrowitch, east of Walcha, on Thursday.

Dust is expected to be blown across much of the state's northeast on Friday with the Central Coast and Newcastle areas the worst affected.

The fire danger should lessen over the weekend, although threat levels were forecast to rise again on Tuesday or Wednesday next week, Mr Fitzsimmons said.

Add a Comment