It was an ominous start to the national bushfire season yesterday when two fires broke out on the Illawarra escarpment, fanned by hot westerly winds and temperatures that reached 36 degrees in some suburbs.Fire crews were called when a blaze broke out at Cataract Dam just before 2pm.Four tankers and 25 crew attended the fire and a helicopter was called in to water-bomb the site.The second blaze broke out at Mt Kembla around 2.30pm, with two helicopters, eight fire tankers and 45 firemen on hand to combat the flames.NSW Rural Fire Service (RFS) Superintendent Richard Cotterill said both blazes were under control by mid-afternoon and crews worked into the night to ensure they were completely extinguished.He said RFS fire crews had completed their pre-season training ahead of the official bushfire season, which began on Wednesday, and were ready for what was shaping up to be a hotter-than-average spring."We're expecting conditions to moderate over the next few days, but we are certainly going to see hot days come and go," he said. "We have made sure that all our crews are ready and prepared, that our equipment is up to speed, and earlier this year, the RFS took delivery of several new tankers to update older fleet vehicles, so we are ready."Mr Cotterill said it was also important for Illawarra residents to be prepared."Fire safety is everybody's responsibility and the best thing people can do is to be prepared," Mr Cotterill said. "There is no substitute for good housekeeping and that is not only for people who live right next to the bush."Mr Cotterill said it was important to keep property clear of flammable materials and have a plan in place to deal with the threat of a bushfire.Some meteorologists are citing climate change as the reason for the unseasonable hot weather.The Bureau of Meteorology says continued hot temperatures in the Indian Ocean, particularly off the West Australian coast, are largely responsible for the warm October to December forecast.Temperatures in southern NSW, Victoria and Tasmania are tipped to exceed the average with some regions scoring an off-the-charts 80 per cent chance of high temperatures.