Community spirit remains high in the Shoalhaven where a bushfire continues to rage out of control in bushland west of Sussex Inlet.
Rural Fire Service volunteers have spent three days battling the blaze, which by last night had consumed more than 6600 hectares of bushland.
The Deans Gap fire has so far threatened three properties in the Wandandian Village area, forcing crews to carry out backburns to protect the homes.
After two days of mild weather, firefighters are today expected to again be faced with challenging conditions. A statewide total fire ban has been declared due to the forecast hot, dry and windy conditions across NSW.
Temperatures are expected to reach 29 degrees in Wollongong today, while Albion Park can expect a top of 33 degrees.
Conditions will be similar tomorrow, but with a chance of showers late in the day.
Today's fire danger rating for the region is expected to be upgraded from high to severe.
Late yesterday Shoalhaven Mayor Joanna Gash said the heat was already starting to pick up, making for a nervous night for RFS crews. She said the fire was now 15 kilometres wide and the risk to communities was still very real.
"There's a lot of mopping up and a lot of backburning being done, making sure we have the containment lines for when it happens, if it happens," she said.
"We've set up some base points at the Nowra Showground ... as well as HMAS Albatross; we're not out of the woods yet."
Mrs Gash said community spirit remained high and she praised the efforts of firefighters and those eager to volunteer their time.
"We have so many other groups from outside the area helping as well because it's such a large area, and they're from all over the state," she said. "The catering department has been flat out and people tend to forget about those people doing all that work in making all those meals."
Although some tourists had fled, many more had remained, determined to enjoy their holiday and support the economy.
"We're suggesting if anybody's in doubt they should come into town for the day, there's still plenty of other things to do - the Shoalhaven is still open, I can assure you," she said.
Residents affected by the blaze could now access assistance through the Natural Disaster Relief and Recovery Arrangements (NDRRA) recovery program.
"The NDRRA offers immediate assistance to help primary producers, small business owners, local charities and low-income earners get back on their feet after disaster strikes," Mrs Gash said. "This scheme will also offer assistance to Shoalhaven City Council to perform essential post-disaster infrastructure repairs, if necessary."
For more information, call Mrs Gash's office on 4423 1782 or the Disaster Welfare Assistance Line on 1800 018 444. Go online to rfs.nsw.gov.au for information on fires in NSW.