Firefighters are facing a "nightmare" trying to contain several out-of-control bushfires in northern NSW, with fears a southerly change could push at least one of the blazes towards houses on the coast.
Three watch-and-act warnings are in place for fires at Bees Nest, near Armidale, Drake, near Tenterfield, and Shark Creek in the Clarence Valley just south of Yamba.
At least nine homes have been destroyed but crews are yet to fully assess the damage.
Of greatest concern is the Shark Creek fire, with gusts of up to 80km/h forecast for Tuesday morning.
Residents of nearby towns Angourie, Wooloweyah, Gulmarrad and Yamba are being warned to monitor the situation closely after the blaze breached containment lines overnight.
At 5pm there are 64 fires burning, with 28 uncontained. More than 630 firefighters are deployed. One fire is at Emergency Warning & two remain at Watch and Act. Strong winds are expected to continue as the cool change moves up the coast. #NSWRFS#nswfireshttps://t.co/OzsheqFeirpic.twitter.com/DHhkHUNjPM— NSW RFS (@NSWRFS) September 9, 2019
"Firefighters are working furiously trying to slow that fire down," NSW Rural Fire Service deputy commission Rob Rogers told Nine's Today Show.
"They won't put the fire out but trying to stop it spreading towards the north towards the more populated areas."
The blaze has already burnt through more than 7750 hectares of bushland in the Yuraygir National Park.
Meanwhile, crews are still trying to get a hold on fires north of Ebor at Bees Nest - which has a perimeter of more than 300km and has burnt more than 66,500 hectares - and around Long Gully Road in Drake, which has razed 40,000ha.
Firefighters have spent the night trying to protect property but have been unable to bring the fires under control.
"Just trying to get containment on these fires is a nightmare," Mr Rogers said.
"They are still burning in and around properties, and that's going to continue on until hopefully there will be a break tomorrow from the winds. But today we're expecting stronger winds again."
The Bureau of Meteorology has issued a high fire danger rating for several regions on Tuesday including the Far North Coast, North Coast, New England, Central Ranges and Greater Hunter. The risk will be very high in the Northern Slopes region.
More than 630 firefighters were deployed to fight 60-plus fires burning across the state as of Monday afternoon, many of them uncontained.
- Australian Associated Press
EARLIER REPORT: 9/9/19 - NORTHERN DAILY LEADER
THERE'S no sign of relief as weather conditions worsen for firefighters battling destructive blazes in the state's north.
Out of control fires at Drake and Bees Nest near Armidale have ripped through five homes and 100,000 hectares as strong winds fan the flames. The Mount McKenzie Road fire near Tenterfield is being controlled.
NSW Rural Fire Service volunteers met with residents and Armidale Regional Council mayor Simon Murray on Sunday.
"I talked to some people on the western side of the gorge who's property was affected, they don't know how many cattle they have left," Cr Murray said.
"At the moment the focus is asset protection, there's very little chance of back-burning.
"There is a concern around Ebor itself that the wind could change and the fire could come back."
The out of control Long Gully Road and Bees Nest fires have both been downgraded to Watch and Act status, but are expected to rage for weeks in tough to reach terrain.
An evacuation centre is open at Dorrigo Showground, calls for clothing, food and hygiene products were so well-answered that people were told to hold off bringing more on Sunday.
At least 25 evacuees took shelter at the centre at the weekend, many uncertain whether they would have homes to return to.
Two RFS crews from Tamworth are among the hundreds of firefighters who are battling the blazes in the state's north.
Winds of up to 80km per hour have pushed the fires forward at alarming speeds and efforts by firefighters have been largely reactionary, Tamworth RFS superintendent Allyn Purkiss said.
"Certainly the Bees Nest fire is in country now that has no containment options for many kilometres," Mr Purkiss said.
"I would expect it to go on for a number of weeks.
"The Long Gully Road fire has run into some of the areas affected earlier in the year by fire around Drake, the strategy is to steer it in that direction so it runs out of fuel to keep burning."
Just 10 per cent of the Drake blaze has been assessed and four homes are confirmed destroyed.
NSW RFS Building Impact Assessment teams are looking at impacted properties.
One home, two car yards and a pistol club were destroyed in the Mount McKenzie Road fire at Tenterfield.
The Insurance Council of Australia declared the fires a catastrophe and the state and federal governments are offering disaster assistance.
Relief is available for those in Tenterfield, Armidale, Clarence Valley, Glen Innes, Inverell, Uralla and Walcha who have been affected by the bushfires since August 31.
Support includes help for people who's homes or belongings have been damaged and money for local councils to help with clean up and reconstruction costs.
The fires are severe, Natural Disaster and Emergency Management Minister David Littleproud said.
"They've been fuelled by strong winds and have burnt through thousands of hectares of land, threatening life and communities," he said.
"The speed at which these fires moved shows the need for communities to stay vigilant and have a plan, especially as we try to bring them under control."
Concessional interest rate loans for small businesses, primary producers and non-profit organisations are available, as well as freight subsidies for primary producers and financial grants for non-profits.