Firefighters are currently using back-burning to prevent two blazes in the New South Wales Blue Mountains from joining into a mega-fire.
While it is hoped the two fronts can be prevented from meeting, authorities have said there was a chance the risky tactic could fail, and the huge fire could spread across hundreds of kilometres.
This afternoon NSW Rural Fire Service Commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons said there was “every chance we could see changing circumstances” across the four major fire grounds this afternoon, according to Fairafax.
Earlier Fitzsimmons had said the aggressive back-burning along the Bells line of road was “risky,” but that it seemed to be paying off.
Today is expected to be the hottest day of the week, however strong winds are forecast for Wednesday, with firefighters working to establish containment lines before they arrive. Gusts could reach up to 100 kilometres per hour.
The damage bill is rising sharply, with the latest figures from the Insurance Council of Australia putting it at $94 million with 855 claims made.
More than 200 homes have been lost, authorities said, and a 63-year-old man has died while trying to defend his home.
According to the Rural Fire Service an emergency warning remains in place for residents living along a large part of the Bells Line of Road, as firefighters continue to try contain the massive bushfire burning near Lithgow.
Residents who live in the township of Bell and west of the village of Bilpin are being told to leave. Fires along access roads have already cut off the communities of Mt Wilson and Mt Irvine.
The nearby fires at Springwood and Mt Victoria remain at watch and act status.
New South Wales premier Barry O’Farrell has declared a state of emergency which gives authorities the ability to forcibly evacuate residents, as well as demolish property, along with other increased powers.
Police have said while they hope no one needs to be moved, they are prepared to force people to leave to prevent lives being lost.
The fires began last Thursday after unseasonably warm temperatures and strong winds fanned the blazes into infernos which have been described as the worst in a decade.
Firefighters — including Australia’s Prime Minster Tony Abbott — battled blazes over the weekend, making progress, though some fires are expected to continue to burn for up to 30 days.
Now read: Australia’s Prime Minister Was Fighting The Bushfires Himself Over The Weekend
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