UPDATE: Highway still closed, Wandandian fire out of control

7.10am: The Deans Gap fire remains out of control this morning after crossing the Princes Highway late yesterday afternoon. 

The fire remains south of Wandandian and south of Cassia Road. However, the threat is believed to have eased for residents of Sussex Inlet, with those in the outer suburbs told around 12.30am that they could return home. 

The southerly change swept through Nowra late last night, with temperatures dropping from 35.5 degrees at 9pm to 24 degrees at 10.20pm. The intensity of the fire decreased with the arrival of the cooler conditions. 

The Princes Highway remains closed in both directions, between Wandean Road and Bendalong Road. Turpentine, Wandean and Twelve Mile roads also remain closed.

Motorists are advised to avoid the area, as no detours are in place. 

9.30pm: A bushfire is threatening Sussex Inlet and Bendalong and people have been advised to move to built-up areas.

The fire burning 1.5km to the west of Wandandian at Deans Gap has burnt through 1515 hectares and has crossed the Princes Highway.

The southerly change is expected to reach the area soon and will cause the fire to head in a northerly direction, impacting on Sussex Inlet Road within the next few hours.   

MORE: Updates on how the Illawarra is faring

MORE: Holidaymakers quit Bendalong park as fire threatens

With the Princes Highway closed in both directions, those who were considering leaving the area by that route should prepare their homes and themselves for possible fire impact.

While there are no evacuation orders in place, evacuation centres are open in Sussex Inlet at the bowling club and the RSL.

Only the  RSL is capable of taking people with pets.

Staff at the Sussex Inlet RSL Club say about 500 people are sheltering there this evening, including about 80 residents of an evacuated retirement village. 

The Rural Fire Service have sent five tankers and two helicopters from the Illawarra to assist in fighting a number of Shoalhaven fires, including the blaze at Deans Gap.

The NSW Fire and Rescue are sending a strike team made up of four trucks and 18 crew.

Overall, there are 33 trucks, just under 200 firefighters and three aircraft fighting the blaze at Deans Gap. 

RFS public liaison officer Inspector Brett Loughlin said there were no forced evacuations as at 4.30pm, however emergency warnings had been going out all day.

The fire has been burning since yesterday but firefighters had managed to contain the fire on Monday night.

However, this afternoon it jumped containment lines and began heading east.

The fire has also seen the closure of several other roads, including Braidwood, Turpentine, Wandean and Twelve Mile roads. 

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