Out-of-control bushfires closing in on 'major population centres' in NSW
Flames at Green Wattle Creek flare amid bushfire emergency (ABC News)
More than 680 homes have been destroyed by bushfires in NSW this season, the Rural Fire Service (RFS) has confirmed.
Almost 250 houses have been damaged, while more than 2,000 outbuildings have been destroyed or damaged.
The updated totals come as three blazes burning north of Sydney this morning joined to create what has been dubbed a "mega blaze".
The Gospers Mountain fire in the Hawkesbury region has merged with two fires in the Lower Hunter — the Little L Complex blaze and the Paddock Run fire near Singleton.
Conditions around the massive fire front are expected to deteriorate this afternoon.
The three fires have burned through more than 300,000 hectares and destroyed around 10 homes.
NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian has urged residents to remain vigilant.
"We have seen the fire is coming to very close proximity to major population centres, whether it is on the South Coast, Central Coast, or even Greater Western Sydney," Ms Berejiklian said from the RFS control room in Sydney.
"We know there have been some property losses, the extent of which won't be known until the fire conditions are safe for people to go in and have a look, but we also appreciate that many families and many people have been asked to leave their homes and we can appreciate what a scary time this is for many people."
As of 1:00pm, the RFS said there were 104 fires burning across the state, with 59 out of control. Several bushfires are burning at an emergency level.
Total fire bans are in place for 10 regions in NSW today, including Greater Sydney, where the fire danger rating is "severe".
Warm and dry winds are expected to elevate fire dangers across north and east parts of NSW.
At one stage last month, emergency warnings were issued for 17 separate blazes on one day.
Yesterday, the RFS issued emergency warnings for seven fires, including two threatening areas on Sydney's doorstep.
NSW RFS deputy commissioner Rob Rogers said crews would assess the damage from those blazes today and over the weekend.
"I think that firefighters did some incredible saves last night on properties and I think some of the vision has shown that," he said.
"We've got to work out how many homes we have lost."
Yesterday, firefighters filmed the moment a wall of flames began surrounding them at Orangeville, just 70km from Sydney's CBD.
Mr Rogers said those conditions were "representative" of other areas in NSW.
"The fires in the north, they were dealing with these sort of horrendous conditions, down in the Shoalhaven and Sydney," he said.
"It's reflective of how dry the landscape is.
"The drought makes the fuel so quick to burn and it burns so volatile when it burns."
Firefighting and incident management specialists from Canada are being briefed in Sydney this morning, the RFS confirmed.
They will be deployed throughout NSW tomorrow to add their expertise to the battle to control bushfires burning across the state.
A further 21 firefighting specialists will arrive from the US later today.