HOMES were today under threat from an out-of-control fire in the Blue Mountains, west of Sydney.
The Rural Fire Service said 100 firefighters were tackling the 500-hectare fire burning near Lithgow, with hundreds more on stand-by.
The fire was burning near homes in Victoria Street, McAuley Street and Brook Street at Oaky Park.
Residents of Clarence and Oaky Park were urged to seek shelter and protect themselves from flying embers, with properties there expected to be threatened, the RFS has warned.
Those who had planned to leave their homes in a bushfire should have left by noon (AEDT), NSW Fire Commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons said.
Conditions were worsening, he said, with winds expected to reach up to 95km/h by late morning.
“History will show, too many lives are lost when people flee at the last minute,” he said.
The fire broke out near an army range yesterday afternoon, with explosions and detonations making it too dangerous to send in firefighters and aircraft.
Mr Fitzsimmons said the fire would take some time to control given the sweltering conditions and its geographic location.
It’s expected to skirt to the northeast of Lithgow and head into the mountains as the winds pick up.
If the high winds do fan the blaze, it could disrupt the Western rail line through the area, Mr Fitzsimmons said.
A 367-hectare bushfire was also burning 15km east of Singleton, in the Hunter Valley, but is being controlled.
A total fire ban has been issued for today ahead of the tinder-dry conditions, with a predicted maximum of 34 degrees and low humidity.
By mid-morning, the mercury had already risen past 30 degrees in parts of the state, such as Richmond, Williamtown and Badgerys Creek.
Some 67 fires are burning across NSW, 20 uncontained.
The Bells Line of Road has been closed between Lithgow and Bell, with motorists advised to take the Great Western Highway instead.
The RFS was setting up evacuation centres at the Lithgow Workers Club and the Mt Tomah Botanic Gardens.
Meanwhile, an emergency warning has been issued for residents around Tomago Road and Cabbage Tree Road at Heatherbrae, in Port Stephens.
The RFS said a fire had breached containment lines under gusty winds and was burning towards Tomago Road.