Key points:
• 83 fires are burning in New South Wales, 50 of which are not contained;
• One blaze west of Coffs Harbour covers 150,000 hectares, with a perimeter of more than 1000km;
• 'At least 50' homes in NSW were damaged or destroyed yesterday;
• The wind change that caused havoc in NSW yesterday is now moving into Queensland;
• More than 72 fires are burning across Queensland;
Oz smoke plume to hit NZ: What you need to know

Emergency NSW fire downgraded

8.25pm:

A fire previously burning at emergency level on the NSW Mid Coast has been downgraded to a Watch and Act level.

The Hillville Rd fire at Hillville, near Taree, was downgraded after conditions eased in the area.

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Residents in Burrell Creek, Bo Bo Creek, Hillville, Purfleet, Tinonee, Failford, Possum Brush & Old Bar are being told to monitor conditions.

74 fires in NSW rage, with residents escaping with what they could. Video / Seven News

Incredible scorched earth photo

8.15pm:

A photo taken from a rescue helicopter last night captured the terrifying ferocity of the fires on the NSW North Coast.

Crews in a Westpac Rescue Helicopter were called to Maclean following reports of a woman requiring urgent transport to Lismore Base Hospital.

As they flew over the area they were met with the confronting scene of the fires below.

Because of the bushfires in the area the helicopter was the only option for transport.

Pilot walks away after crash

8pm:

The pilot of a waterbombing helicopter has walked away with minor injuries after crash-landing while battling a blaze in the Pechey area.

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It is understood the incident occurred when the helicopter was attempting to land in windy conditions.

Paramedics said the helicopter, operated by McDermott Aviation, "landed heavily" just before 2pm.

The pilot, who is in his 70s, was taken to Toowoomba Hospital in a stable condition.

Emergency level fires threaten homes in Western Australia

7.55pm:

Two homes have reportedly already gone up in flames in the Geraldton area in Western Australia.

Two bushfires are threatening houses in the area with two emergency alerts issued, one for the southern part of Utakarra and another for coastal Glenfield and Drummond Cove.

Firefighters say lives and homes are in danger and are warning people that the Utakarra fire is out of control and moving quickly.

'Leave immediately': Third emergency warning for Queensland

7.30pm:

A fire in Queensland's Bundaberg Region has been upgraded to emergency level and residents have been told to "leave immediately".

A fast moving fire is burning at Buxton between Woodgate Road and Burrum River.

The fire is travelling in a south, south-easterly direction towards Buxton.

"Leaving immediately is the safest option, as it will soon be too dangerous to drive," the QFES said.

"Follow your bushfire survival plan now. If you do not have a plan, your safest option is to leave immediately if it is clear to do so.

"If you cannot leave, identify where you will seek shelter from the bushfire.

"If you are not in the area, do not return, as conditions are too dangerous."

Buxton residents should evacuate the area by heading west along Buxton Road.

Residents in a town in the Gympie Region have also been told to evacuate.

A large fire is burning in Kilkivan in the vicinity of the Des Simpson Memorial and is heading in a south-easterly direction towards Thornside Road and Upper Thornside Road.

The fire is likely to impact Thornside Road and Upper Thornside Road within 15 minutes.

"Those residents looking to self-evacuate should travel along Thornside Road onto Upper Widgee Road heading towards Gympie," QFES said.

"QFES alongside Queensland Police Service (QPS) are doorknocking in the area to ensure the safety of residents."

Men charged after allegedly impersonating firefighters

7.15pm:

Several people have been charged in relation to yesterday's fires, with some allegedly caught trying to impersonate firefighters.

A 36-year-old Lismore man was arrested yesterday after equipment branded with RFS and another emergency agency was found when a search warrant was executed at his NSW home.

He has been charged with dishonestly obtaining benefit by deception, having goods in custody suspected of being stolen, and vehicle registration offences.

He was refused bail to appear in Lismore Local Court today.

In a separate incident, a 19-year-old man was also charged with impersonating an emergency services officer and having goods in custody suspected of being stolen, after he was arrested dressed in a Fire and Rescue NSW uniform at Loftus about 9.30pm yesterday .

He was released on strict conditional bail to appear in Sutherland Local Court on December 4.

Acting Assistant Commissioner Stuart Smith said five others were caught allegedly lighting fires during the total fire ban.

"That included five individuals aged between 18 and 28 years, two for lighting barbecues, two attempting to incinerate waste and lighting candles," he said.

Second emergency warning for Queensland

6.55pm:

A 'fast-moving' fire burning in Queensland's Toowoomba Region has been upgraded to emergency warning level.

The fire at Pechey is travelling in a north easterly direction between Pechey and Hampton.

It is expected to impact Deeth Road, Lanyon Road, Williams Road and Pechey Forestry Road, Pechey within the next hour.

Residents are being warned to evacuate the area immediately.

"Conditions are now very dangerous and firefighters may soon be unable to prevent the fire advancing," the QFES said.

"The fire may pose a threat to all lives directly in its path. Fire crews may not be able to protect your property.

"You should not expect a firefighter at your door: act now."

Residents evacuating should travel along the New England Highway towards an evacuation centre which has been established at Highfields Sport and Recreation Park, 220 Barracks Road, Highfields.

Hillville fire flares up again

6.40pm:

A fire burning on NSW's Mid Coast has been upgraded to emergency level.

The out of control blaze on Hillville Rd, Hillville has already burnt through more than 22,800 hectares.

Winds are pushing the fire in a north-westerly direction towards Burrell Creek and Bo Bo Creek.

Residents in these areas are being warned to seek shelter as the fire front approaches.

People in Hillville, Purfleet, Tinonee, Failford, Possum Brush and Old Bar are being told to monitor conditions.

The fire was downgraded yesterday to a Watch and Act level but has flared up again, putting residents and homes at risk once more.

Old Bar Rd is currently closed as a result of this fire.

Firefighters and a waterbombing aircraft are working to get the blaze under control.

Firefighters fighting the Hillville blaze. Photo / news.com.au
Firefighters fighting the Hillville blaze. Photo / news.com.au

Queensland fire sparks emergency declaration

6pm:

Queensland Police have made an emergency declaration under the Public Safety Preservation Act due to a dangerous grass fire burning in the Bundaberg Region.

The Woodgate blaze has sparked an exclusion zone around Burrum River west of the Bruce Highway, Bruce Highway north to Goodwood Road, Goodwood Road to Elliot River.

Residents within this zone are being urged to "leave the area now" and to follow the advice of emergency services on the ground.

Woodgate Road between Heidkes Road and Frizzells Road is currently closed in both directions.

Waterbomber crashes while fighting fires

5:45pm:

A waterbomber has crashed while trying to fight a fire in Queensland's Toowoomba Region.

The aircraft reportedly crashed near Sewell Rd in Pechey while battling a blaze that has forced residents to flee the area.

It is understood the incident occurred about half an hour ago.

Paramedics are now treating the pilot for minor injuries after the aircraft "landed heavily".

The pilot has been transported to Toowoomba Hospital in a stable condition.

Mayor of Toowoomba, Paul Antonio, was made aware of the news on-air while speaking with the ABC.

"I wasn't aware of all of that but I would say we are very thankful to those people who go out there, those skilled pilots who go out there and help us control fires when needs be," he said.

"Our thoughts are with all concerned and we are looking forward to it working out the right way."

Earlier, emergency crews told residents to "leave now" following fears the fire could have a "significant impact on the community".

The fast-moving fire is travelling from Grapetree Road towards Deeth Road, Sewell Road, Parker Road, Bush Road and Misty Mountain Road. It is currently impacting Parker Road and Sewell Road.

People leaving the area should make their way towards the New England Highway.

Sunshine Coast residents told to leave

5.30pm:

People on Queensland's Sunshine Coast are being told to leave now, with emergency crews fearing a nearby fire may soon impact nearby residents.

The bushfire is burning in Noosa North Shore in the vicinity of Beach Rd and the First Cutting has been upgraded to an emergency warning.

Residents are being warned the blaze may soon impact the Wallaby Track and have a "significant impact on the community".

"Leaving immediately is the safest option, as it will soon be too dangerous to drive," the QFES said.

People leaving the area should take the Noosa River Ferry to Moorindil Street.

An evacuation centre has been established at the Noosa Leisure Centre on Wallace Drive.

"Ground crews and waterbombing aircraft are working to contain the fire but firefighters may not be able to protect every property," the QFES said in a post.

"You should not expect a firefighter at your door. Power, water, and mobile phone service may be lost.

"People in the area will be affected by smoke, which will reduce visibility and air quality."

The fire is currently at Watch and Act level.

Massive scale of NSW mid-coast fire

5pm:

A video has highlighted the massive scale of one of the many major blazes firefighters have been battling to contain on New South Wales' Mid Coast.

The footage, posted to Twitter by the RFS, shows the huge amount of land the Rumba Dump fire has covered.

The huge blaze is still burning out of control in the areas of Killabakh, Bulgong, Upper Lansdown, Elands, Bobin and Marlee.

It has already burnt through more than 28,700 hectares.

Though fire conditions have eased from yesterday, residents are still being warned to monitor conditions.

Hazy buffer that protected Sydney

4.40pm:

Sydneysiders spent much of yesterday snapping eerie pictures of the skies blanketed in the thick haze spewed up into the atmosphere by the various bushfires that have raged throughout the state.

Along with the pungent stench of the fires, it was one of the most obvious signs of the blazes.

Haze from the fires blankets the Sydney Harbour Bridge.
Haze from the fires blankets the Sydney Harbour Bridge.

But that thick haze, which smothered much of coastal New South Wales, may have been one of the reasons the bushfires couldn't take hold and Tuesday's day of dread didn't become an actual catastrophe.

Read more:
Unusual 'buffer' that changed fire's course, protected Sydney

Another 'leave now' instruction issued for Queensland

4.25pm:

Another '"leave now" warning has been issued for Queensland's Toowoomba Region.

Residents in Pechey have been advised to leave as conditions are getting worse.

The fast-moving fire is travelling from Grapetree Road towards Deeth Road, Sewell Road, Parker Road, Bush Road and Misty Mountain Road.

It is currently impacting Parker Road and Sewell Road.

The QFES has warned fire could have on the significant impact on the community.

A waterbombing plane flies low over the fires near Pechey. Photo / news.com.au
A waterbombing plane flies low over the fires near Pechey. Photo / news.com.au

Resident spots 'suspicious fire'

3.50pm:

Noosa North Shore resident Helen Warburton, took these pictures of the emergency level fire as seen from the beach this morning.

Dozens of fires burning across Queensland and New South Wales

3.15pm:

There are currently 72 fires burning across Queensland, with one at Emergency Level and seven at Watch and Act.

Emergency Level:

North Shore Noosa

Watch and Act:

Waterfall Creek Rd, Maroon

Wilson Rd and Spicers Gap Rd, Clumber

Mulgowie Rd, Townson

Grapetree Rd, Peachey

Gympie Woolooga Rd and Upper Widgee Rd, Widgee

Woopis Rd and Woodgate Rd, Woodgate

Old Byfield Rd, Cobraball

There were around 73 fires burning across NSW this morning, with ten currently at Watch and Act.

Watch and Act:

Mt Nardi National Park

Thunderbolts Way, Bretti

Gospers Mountain

Washpool State Forest, Coombadjha

Myall Creek Road, near Bungawalbin, New Italy and The Gap

Kian Road, Nambucca Heads

Rumba Dump/Hillville Rd, near Wingham, Taree, Nabiac

Gulf Road, Emmaville

Liberation Trail fire, Clarence Valley

Carrai East, Carrai Creek, Stockyard East, Gum Scrub – South West Rocks to Laurieton

More Queensland residents urged to flee

3.05pm:

More Queensland residents are being told the flee their homes, with another posing a threat in the state's Gympie Region.

The QFES has warned there is a large fire burning in Kilkivan in the vicinity of the Des Simpson Memorial and conditions are getting worse.

The blaze is heading in a south-westerly direction towards Thornside Road and Upper Thornside Road and is likely to impact those areas within 30 minutes.

Residents looking to evacuate should do so now before it is too late to leave.

Residents at Woodgate, south of Bundaberg, are also being told to leave, as a fire burns towards Walkers Point Road.

The fire crews are working to contain the "fast-moving" blaze but may not be able to protect every property.

"Those in the Walkers Point area should evacuate via Walkers Point Road, towards Woodgate Bowls Club, Kangaroo Court," QFES said.

"Residents in the Woodgate township are not required to evacuate at this point in time."

Residents told to 'leave now'

1.50pm:

People at Noosa North Shore are being told to leave now, with emergency crews fearing a nearby fire may soon impact nearby residents.

A bushfire is burning in the vicinity of Beach Rd and the First Cutting.

Residents are being warned the blaze may soon impact the Wallaby Track and have a "significant impact on the community".

People leaving the area should take the Noosa River Ferry to Moorindil Street.

An evacuation centre has been established at the Noosa Leisure Centre on Wallace Drive.

"Ground crews and waterbombing aircraft are working to contain the fire but firefighters may not be able to protect every property," the QFES said in a post.

"You should not expect a firefighter at your door. Power, water, and mobile phone service may be lost.

"People in the area will be affected by smoke, which will reduce visibility and air quality."

The fire is currently at Watch and Act level.

Russell Crowe's property damaged

1pm:

Russell Crowe says he lost a couple of buildings in the fire that reached his property in the Nana Glen area.

Thankfully none of the animals were harmed.

Read more:
Russell Crowe reveals bushfire damage

The situation in Queensland

12:40pm:

This map shows the danger areas in Queensland.

There are five watch and act warnings in the state at the moment.

The map shows the areas at risk in Queensland. Image / news.com.au
The map shows the areas at risk in Queensland. Image / news.com.au

Severe penalties for firebugs

12.35pm:

NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian has stressed firebugs will face severe penalties as the state's total fire ban continues.

Berejiklian spoke to Nova 96.9's breakfast show Fitzy and Wippa this morning, and responded to the news a 9-year-old boy was caught lighting a fire with a blowtorch in Nowra on the South Coast.

Police said the boy, due to his age, was warned under the Young Offenders Act after a small grass fire broke out behind a street at about 11.35am on Tuesday.

He had been with a group of other children.

"If you're an adult who is caught lighting a fire and it risks property and life, you could be in jail for 14 years in NSW," Berejiklian said.

"So we've got the toughest penalties in the nation and we will use those."

News.com.au reporter Sarah McPhee said Berejiklian said police had briefed her on the capabilities of emergency aircraft to "identify bodies, people literally walking through bushland when they shouldn't be" from above.

"They can be identified which is why that young boy was identified and brought in," she said.

"As the police described it this morning, any minors caught in that situation … well, they've been, the police use the term 'educated' but I think we know what that means."

Devastation in fire's wake

12:30pm:

James Hall is just north of Taree, near the village of Killabakh.

Some of the devastation there is pretty stark.

Cars burnt out in the wake of the fires. Photo / news.com.au
Cars burnt out in the wake of the fires. Photo / news.com.au
Buildings have been destroyed after fire roared through the area. Photo / news.com.au
Buildings have been destroyed after fire roared through the area. Photo / news.com.au

Weather to worsen

12.05pm:

Forecasters have warned NSW's bushfire risk is not over, and while conditions may have eased from yesterday's scorching highs, there are worrying signs on the horizon.

Temperatures will "increase dramatically once again" next week, in places to above 40C in temperature, bearing down towards the east coast on Tuesday.

Immediate attention, however, turns to southeast Queensland, which is set for another scorching day as the cold front that stoked up fires in NSW heads north.

Brisbane could hit 33C today, and smoke haze is expected to be widespread before the winds arrive in the middle of the day.

Much of the southeast of the state is in the grip of severe fire danger, as is the Darling Downs and Granite Belt.

Residents north of Rockhampton in the path of a raging bushfire have been warned to prepare to leave as conditions worsen, AAP has reported.

"The fire is expected to have a significant impact on the community," the Queensland Fire and Emergency Services said early on Wednesday.

South of the Tweed River, 950 firefighters are on the ground and 200 homes have been destroyed.

Yesterday afternoon, several suburbs of Sydney erupted in flames and 1.1 million hectares of land have been burned across the state.

Today, temperatures in Sydney will top out at 23C, some 15 degrees cooler than yesterday's CBD high of 36.1C.

Residents of Taree on the NSW mid north coast, the epicentre of the worst bushfire damage, can expect highs of 26C.

"The fires will ease back but they will be still be quite substantial on Wednesday, and it will be difficult for firefighters to stop them entirely," Sky News Weather Channel meteorologist Rob Sharpe said.

However, despite the cooler temperatures and lessened winds, there are still two things that are worrying weather watchers.

One is rain. Or the lack of it.

The second is a another bubble of hot weather, brewing up in Western Australia, that is ready to be flung across the desert at the east coast.

In terms of rainfall, very little is forecast across Australia.

'There are widespread dangers'

11.45am:

NSW RFS Commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons says 17 fires in NSW remain at watch and act level.

There are no emergency warnings at the moment.

He indicated the estimate of how many properties were damaged yesterday – at the moment it's "at least 50" – could keep rising.

"A lot of detailed work, a lot of building impact assessment teams will be getting out in and around these firegrounds, in these burnt out areas when it is safe to do so, trying to take stock of exactly what has been lost," Fitzsimmons has just told the media in his latest update.

"And over the coming days and weeks, we will update people not just on what's been lost, but most importantly, for communities, for the firefighters themselves – who feel so deflated, who feel such sadness and despair at seeing so much loss – we've got to make sure we take stock of what has been saved and what has been protected."

He said the weather outlook was "more favourable" today, but there was still "severe" fire danger in the northern areas of NSW.

On top of that, weather conditions are set to deteriorate again heading into the weekend and next week.

"There are widespread fire dangers, and that is still high risk, given the enormous number of fires and the enormous area being burned by fire," said the Commissioner.

"It will still be warm and windy as we head into the weekend, and we can expect elevated fire dangers as we hit Saturday and Sunday particularly.

"Then there's another frontal pattern moving across the state early in the week to the middle of next week, where we're going to see another burst of really hot conditions dominating much of the weather.

"We can likely expect some increased fire dangers early and in the middle of next week as well. We will not have all these fires contained before then."

In fact, he said, it would take "many, many weeks" to fully contain the existing fires.

"What we need is rain. What we need is meaningful rain. And there is certainly nothing in the forecast for the foreseeable future that's going to make any discernible difference to the conditions."

'At least' 50 homes damaged or destroyed

11.20am: The damage from fires in NSW yesterday appears to have been more severe than authorities originally thought.

Early this morning they estimated a dozen homes had been damaged or destroyed in the fires across NSW.

Now that figure has risen to "at least 50".

Fire bosses rubbish claims Russell Crow received VIP treatment

10.45am

The NSW Rural Fire Service has rubbished claims actor Russell Crowe got preferential treatment at the expense of other fire victims yesterday.

Crowe is not in Australia, but the fire threatened his property.

He owns 400ha of land around Nana Glen, west of Coffs Harbour, where a gigantic 150,000ha blaze is still burning.

A distraught neighbour claimed fire trucks drove straight past her home to save Crowe's property.

"Firefighters are not aware of whose homes they are being sent to," an RFS spokesman said yesterday.

"Crews are dispatched on priority of jobs and the properties that need it the most. We are not aware of who owns the properties."

Crowe says his family is safe and his heart goes out to everyone else in the area.

Fires ramping up in Queensland

10.15am:

While the danger is easing in NSW this morning, it's ramping up in Queensland.

Residents and guests have left a luxury resort in the state's southeast because a fire is approaching.

There is one burning near Spicers Gap and travelling southwest towards Spicers Peak Lodge. Firefighters door knocked the resort in the early hours of the morning to evacuate it, but the guests were already gone.

Four firefighting crews and one caretaker remain on the scene.

9.40am: The Liberation Trail fire west of Coffs Harbour has been downgraded to 'watch and act' status.

It is still covering a massive area – 150,000 hectares, with a perimeter greater than 1000km. But the advice for residents in the area of Yarracooma, Paddys Plain, Cradle Creek, Lowanna, Nana Glen and Coramba is now to "monitor conditions".

That means there are no fires at emergency level in New South Wales for the first time in almost 24 hours.

NSW Premier 'hugely relieved'

9.35am:

NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian and RFS Commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons just held their first briefing of the day.

"I have to confess to being hugely relieved this morning," Berejiklian said.

"Whilst we're not over the threat yet, we are certainly through what was yesterday catastrophic weather conditions, coupled with a number of very high level emergency fires.

The Premier praised firefighters, along with Fitzsimmons' management of the crisis.

"Some might call it luck. I call it good planning and exceptional leadership," she said.

Fitzsimmons said 16 fires remained at watch and act level, and specifically highlighted that one remaining emergency warning, for the Liberation Trail blaze west of Coffs Harbour.

"Overnight it burned down and spotted down very close to, in and around areas like Nana Glen. That fire remains at emergency warning. It's a significant-sized fire," he said.

"It's in the order of 150,000 hectares, which means you're talking about a fire reach, a fire perimeter, of more than 1000km."

Perhaps counter intuitively, the layer of smoke that "effectively blanketed" northeastern NSW yesterday served as an "insulation layer" which largely prevented the strong winds from influencing fire behaviour.

"That was one of the key drivers why the fires didn't spread quite as far as all the behaviour specialists thought they would, and thank goodness," said the Commissioner.

Thirteen firefighters were injured, along with eight members of the public. None of those injuries were life-threatening, and no one is unaccounted for.

9.25am:

New South Wales still has "a long way to go" before the bushfire threat is over, with an emergency warning remaining active in the state and another wave of bad weather incoming.

Today the focus also shifts to Queensland, where increasingly windy conditions and temperatures in the mid to high thirties will make firefighters' job harder.

• 83 fires are burning in NSW, 50 of which are not contained;
• There is one emergency warning, for the Liberation Trail blaze;
• That fire covers 150,000 hectares, with a perimeter of more than 1000km;
• At least a dozen homes were damaged or destroyed yesterday;
• The wind change that caused havoc in NSW yesterday is now moving into QLD;
• More than 60 fires are burning across the state.

Fire bosses blast drone stupidity

8.30am:

Authorities have blasted the "sheer stupidity" of some people amid "catastrophic" bushfires after people were caught flying drones, lighting fires and ignoring advice.

Civil Aviation Safety Authority spokesman Peter Gibson slammed the use of a personal drone on Monday night after it was spotted hovering near smoke in Sydney's North Shore.

"There are no circumstances where an unauthorised drone should be flown near a fire," Gibson said.

"It is sheer stupidity as it puts lives at risk, both on the ground and in the air."

Although no fire was found, the drone could have seriously hampered firefighting efforts, the Killara rural fire brigade said in a post on Facebook.

"If a fire was confirmed at the location we would not be able to request any aerial assistance due to the sighting of a drone near the fire," the brigade posted in a statement on Facebook.

"Please do not fly drones near fires, you are risking lives, if you fly then we can't."

Flying drones near bushfires is illegal and could attract a fine of more than $10,000 and lead to prosecution.

The Killara brigade also saw a number of vehicles coming to "sightsee" the fire which the RFS crew said caused traffic chaos and hampered their ability to respond.

"Don't drive to where the fire trucks are going," NSW RFS spokesman Matt Sun said, adding that drones should never be used near fire crews.

"A mid-air collision with a firefighting aircraft could be catastrophic," Sun said.

"People shouldn't be going out of their way to try and get photos of these situations, they shouldn't be anywhere near the bush at all, it is that dangerous," he said.

'Long way to go'

An emergency warning has been issued for the Hillville fire after a southeasterly change fanned the flames from the Australian fires in a new direction, while the NSW Fire Commissioner warns there is a "long way to go."

In the early hours of Wednesday morning the NSW Rural Fire Service (NSW RFS) said the Hillville Road fire, southwest of Taree, was spreading quickly towards Nabiac and Failford.

A change of wind direction cooled temperatures down signifcantly overnight. Photo / Supplied
A change of wind direction cooled temperatures down signifcantly overnight. Photo / Supplied

READ MORE:
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"If you are in the area of Hillville, Nabiac and Failford and surrounding areas, seek shelter as the fire approaches. Protect yourself from the heat of the fire," it said.

It comes after a southerly change sweeping up the NSW coast led to a dramatic drop in temperatures. NSW RFS Commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons said the cooler temperatures would "certainly bring some welcome relief" however firefighters were not out of the woods yet.

"We're expecting to see increased fire dangers stay around for a little while yet," he said on Tuesday evening.

"There's certainly some welcome relief and a dramatic drop in temperatures behind the change, which is correlating with a significant reduction in the overall fire danger rating. Having said that, the winds are still strong and they're still gusty."

While temperatures dropped 10 degrees overnight, officials say the fire danger isn't over. Photo / Supplied
While temperatures dropped 10 degrees overnight, officials say the fire danger isn't over. Photo / Supplied

After a dangerous day on Tuesday that saw "catastrophic conditions realised" in the Greater Sydney, Greater Hunter and Illawarra/Shoalhaven areas, he said "the work is far from over" and fire crews had a "long way to go" in terms of getting the fires under control.

Commissioner Fitzsimmons praised the work of fire crews, the Bureau of Meteorology and those in the community who have helped with the firefighting effort.

Ironically, smoke from fires served as an "insulation blanket" that prevented winds from fanning fires as quickly as they might have done otherwise, he said.

There's no rainfall on the horizon for NSW. Photo / Nathan Edwards
There's no rainfall on the horizon for NSW. Photo / Nathan Edwards

Up to a dozen homes were damaged or destroyed, and the bill for the fires is estimated to reach more than $40 million, according to the Insurance Council of Australia.

Wednesday's weather forecast is for "severe fire danger" in New England and "very high fire danger" in Northern Slopes according to the NSW Bureau of Meteorology reports.

Large parts of the NSW coast, including Sydney, have been issued warnings for dust and smoke haze. For Sydney, a poor air quality forecast has been issued by the Department of Planning, Industry and Environment (DPIE).

Homes in Sydney covered in red fire retardant. Photo / News.com.au
Homes in Sydney covered in red fire retardant. Photo / News.com.au

A state of emergency remains in place across NSW with total fire bans in effect.

Shifting winds are also expected to create "tough" fire conditions in Queensland over coming days, according to the weather bureau.

Meanwhile, authorities have blasted the "sheer stupidity" of people flying drones, lighting fires and ignoring advice.

Civil Aviation Safety Authority spokesman Peter Gibson slammed the use of a personal drone on Monday night after it was spotted hovering near smoke in Sydney's North Shore.

"There are no circumstances where an unauthorised drone should be flown near a fire," Mr Gibson said. "It is sheer stupidity as it puts lives at risk, both on the ground and in the air."

Although no fire was found, the drone could have seriously hampered firefighting efforts, the Killara rural fire brigade said in a post on Facebook.

"If a fire was confirmed at the location we would not be able to request any aerial assistance due to the sighting of a drone near the fire," the brigade posted in a statement on Facebook.

"Please do not fly drones near fires, you are risking lives, if you fly then we can't."

Flying drones near bushfires is illegal and could attract a fine of more than $10,000 and lead to prosecution.

The Killara brigade also saw a number of vehicles coming to "sightsee" the fire which the RFS crew said caused traffic chaos and hampered their ability to respond.

"Don't drive to where the fire trucks are going." NSW RFS spokesman Matt Sun said, adding that drones should never be used near fire crews.

"A mid-air collision with a firefighting aircraft could be catastrophic," Mr Sun said.

"People shouldn't be going out of their way to try and get photos of these situations, they shouldn't be anywhere near the bush at all, it is that dangerous," he said.