Illawarraresidents have been warned to prepare for a drawn out bushfire season as the official danger period kicks off today.
NSW has already faced more than 2500 grass and bushfires this year with more than a thousand of those occurring within the past month.
At the official launch of the state's bushfire season yesterday, NSW Rural Fire Service Commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons said weather forecasts had been "dramatically revised" and indicated a tough season ahead.
Southern Highlands Rural Fire Service volunteers had an early taste of what the season was likely to be like last Thursday, when they saved a house on Oxleys Hill Road, near Bowral, from a raging grass fire.
Southern Highlands RFS Inspector David Bartlett said now was the time for residents to ensure they had a bushfire plan.
"People should ... make sure their property is adequately prepared ... and also monitor our website and various media for any fire activity," Insp Bartlett said.
"It probably won't be one of the worst years we've had because we're not in drought.
"But because we're getting fire this time of year and if we don't get any significant rainfall, we're going to have a very drawn out fire season."
NSW Emergency Services Minister Michael Gallacher said police would use all available resources to catch firebugs this season, adding that the community took a dim view of such "fools".
"There is nothing more soul destroying [for a community] when they find out a fire that has engulfed their streets, their suburbs, their homes has been lit intentionally by some fool."
Yesterday, 55 fires were burning across the state, including 24 that were not contained.
Commissioner Fitzsimmons said NSW could face more total fire bans today if cloud cover was low.
A very high fire danger has been declared today for the Illawarra/Shoalhaven meaning all fire permits are suspended until midnight.