The Illawarra could be in for a long, hot - and dangerous - summer according to Rural Fire Service Zone Superintendent Richard Cotterill.
With another total fire ban in force statewide today, Mr Cotterill said that, based on previous experience, this year's bushfire season could last until April.
"We've seen a fairly late, hot start to the summer," he said.
"The way things are shaping up at the moment I wouldn't be surprised to see a late fire season extending through into March and maybe early April, potentially.
"Even if we don't get the warmer weather into March and April, the fuel stays dry.
"If you look at the last couple of years we've had a few rainy summers, this year we've had a fairly dry summer.
"So if we don't get fairly significant rain the fuel moisture is going to stay very, very low well beyond the end of summer anyway."
Which is why the RFS is casting a wary eye over the region this weekend. With temperatures predicted to climb past 30 degrees and low humidity, Mr Cotterill said it suggested "severe fire weather".
"That's nowhere near the catastrophic level we saw earlier in the week but we will see a severe fire danger rating," he said.
He said the catastrophic rating on Tuesday and the heavy coverage of the fires burning across the state should ensure that people didn't become complacent about the fire threat.
Meantime, firefighters were yesterday still working to contain a blaze at Deans Gap west of Sussex Inlet.
The fire, which started on Monday, has burned out more than 8000 hectares of bushland. Fortunately the only property loss as of yesterday was a single small shed lost on Tuesday night.
Shoalhaven RFS media liaison officer James Morris said the cooler weather of the last few days had allowed fire crews to strengthen containment lines ahead of this weekend's expected high temperatures of around 35 degrees.
"That is quite warm and the perfect conditions for fire to burn," Mr Morris said.
"However what is on our side is that we have very low winds which are going to slow down the fire a little bit. It will still burn because of how dry it is here - the fuel moisture content is very, very low."
What wind there is will be coming from the north-west and north which Mr Morris said would push the fire towards further bushland rather than nearby communities like Berrara, Bendalong and Lake Conjola.
As of yesterday, Mr Morris said residents in those areas were not being evacuated - and some that had left earlier in the week had returned. Instead they were being told to stay put, be aware of the fire status and avoid complacency.