At least 70 buildings have been destroyed on the Far South Coast, and the Rural Fire Service said that number could increase as firefighters continue to battle the bushfire.
The 1000-hectare blaze around Tathra, east of Bega, started on Sunday and was fanned by very strong winds and high temperatures in the state's east.
It burned through several kilometres of bushland and crossed a river before it reached the township and is still out of control.
As the sun rose on Monday, authorities have begun to assess the area.
"Our early indications are that the number of buildings impacted is likely to climb above 70, but we will confirm that with the work of the building impact assessment teams this morning," RFS Commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons told Network Seven on Monday.
"We have this awful situation throughout the community of Tathra, where we have damaged buildings, damaged homes, and infrastructure," he said.
Hundreds of residents in the town, with a population of about 1600, slept in an evacuation centre in Bega.
Communication was affected after a mobile phone tower collapsed, making it difficult to determine how many people remained in the town.
TATHRA EVACUATION DETAILS: Bega Showground is the emergency evac shelter for those able to make it safely. Refer torfs.nsw.gov.aufor updates and if you need emergency assistance call Triple Zero (000).
PUBLIC INFORMATION and INQUIRY CENTRE: For bush fire information for the Bega and Tathra fires, call 1800 227 228.
The following public schools will be closed on Monday: Bega High School. Tathra Public School. Tanja Public School. Bournda Environmental Education School. St Patrick's Primary School in Bega is operational as normal.
How the Tathra firestorm unfolded
A fast-moving bushfire fanned by hot, strong winds has ravaged the seaside town of Tathra, on the NSW far south coast. About 70 homes and businesses have been destroyed.
HOW THE DISASTER UNFOLDED:
- NSW residents warned of dangerous fire conditions for Sunday
- Total fire bans enforced for more than half the state
- Five bushfires begin burning near Bega, 20km northwest of Tathra
- Fires spread quickly in extremely hot, windy conditions
- One fire begins at Tarraganda, east of Bega, about midday and is soon out of control
- Driven by 50 to 60km/h winds, gusting to 90km/h, it burns towards the coast
- Tracts of bushland are consumed and the fire front reaches the Bega River
- In 30 minutes it jumps the river in two places
- Tathra residents are warned it's too late to leave at 5pm as flames take hold on Tathra's northern outskirts
- Tathra was the "epicentre" of the fire, the Rural Fire Service said
- Flying embers set properties alight well ahead of the fire front
- Properties just metres from the shoreline are destroyed
- Spot blazes take hold in the sand dunes and fire ravages the Tathra headland
- A southerly change arrives in the evening and conditions ease
- Early assessment by the Rural Fire Services reveals up to 70 homes and other buildings have been destroyed
- That figure is expected to rise as assessment teams move in
- No-one has been reported missing so far
- Many residents at an evacuation centre at the Bega Showground, 16km inland, and Tathra schools are closed
- Fire crews are gaining ground in the fight to contain the fire
- 150 fire fighters battled the blaze overnight
- So far it has burnt more than 1000 hectares
Bega District News with AAP