Some coastal residents have been told it's too late to leave as the Currowan fire continues to burn out of control on the South Coast.
After winds eased overnight, strong westerly winds forecast across NSW for Monday are expected to hamper firefighting efforts. Gusts of up to 90km/h are possible for parts of NSW, including the areas affected by the Currowan fire and the North Black Range fire near Braidwood.
The Currowan bushfire north of Batemans Bay remains at emergency warning level and has forced the closure of the Princes Highway in both directions between the Kings Highway turnoff and Bawley Point Road, cutting off access to some coastal communities. The fire has spotted across the Princes Highway into the Murramarang National Park near T-Ridge Road.
Residents west of the Princes Highway between East Lynne and Termeil, and on the coast side of the highway between Kioloa and North Durras, including Depot Beach, Pebbly Beach, Pretty Beach and Bawley Point, have been told it is too late to leave and to seek shelter as the fire approaches.
East Lynne is about 20 kilometres north of Batemans Bay.
The fire was burning hard and quick, too fast to stop, with the focus on saving lives and property. Aircraft were grounded on Sunday afternoon because of strong wind and could be grounded again on Monday.
The fire was burning uncontrolled across 11,600 hectares and doubled in size on Sunday.
In Braidwood, firefighters were protecting properties in Jinglemoney Road and Columbo Road southwest of Braidwood on Sunday evening, after working during the day to put out spot fires as they jumped Cooma Road. Sandholes Road was another focus, and the fire was moving towards residential areas at Forbes Creek.
Braidwood Central School, St Bede's primary school and preschools in Braidwood are closed on Monday.
The Braidwood fire suddenly escalated at lunchtime on Sunday before being downgraded in the evening, with 150 firefighters, Hercules and DC-10 air tankers, helicopters and strike teams from the ACT and other parts of NSW working to protect homes.
NSW fire service Lake George district officer Darren Marks said the fire was "completely uncontained" and the strategy on Sunday and into Monday was to let it burn in the forest but catch it as it came out of the forest, extinguishing spot fires into grasslands, and stop it crossing Cooma Road.
Cooma Road has been closed between Araluen Road and Farrington Road.
The Kings Highway remains open, but drivers have been warned to drive to the conditions.
Work was carried out by fire crews overnight after conditions eased to help stop the spread of the fire.
The NSW Rural Fire Service warned of an increase of smoke and fire during the backburn operation.
An evacuation centre was opened in Braidwood on Sunday as residents in Bendoura, Majors Creek, Jembaicumbene, Wallaces Gap Creek and Reidsdale were told to activate their fire plans and prepare to leave sooner rather than later. Some left, while other residents, including around Bendoura, stayed to protect their homes.
They included the Flack family in Bendoura on Cooma Road, where Amanda Flack said she had a bandanna over her face against the intense smoke, sprinklers going, and wheelbarrows filled with water soaking hessian sacks to use against spot fires.
She described conditions as desperate, with unpredictable winds, with multiple fire trucks and helicopters working to stop the fire heading towards her home on Cooma Road and Farringdon Lane.
"We're not going anywhere," Amanda Flack said, confident the family could protect the house. While it was only a matter of time before the fire crossed the ridge, the paddocks between the base of the ridge and the house were very bare and the family had used the past few days to bulldoze firebreaks.
Also in the Bendoura area, Louis Droulers was watching the fire front which he said had been moving west to east but was shifting, creeping towards them. Such was the size of the fire that it had its own microclimate with unpredictable winds and turbulence and he had seen a flash of lightning inside.
"It's a big fire, I tell you," he said. "Anything in nature of this scale, it's pretty awesome."
Mr Droulers is a volunteer with the Rural Fire Service and was fighting the same fire in Little Bombay on Friday night, where a home was saved. On Sunday, he was protecting his own home, surrounded by bush on Cooma Road.
Most of his neighbours were also staying and were prepared, he said. He had pumps set up separate from the electric power, fire pits filled with water, the gutter covered, and two vehicles packed in case of evacuation.
With Cooma Road closed heading towards Braidwood, residents can only leave south.
In Jembaicumbene, Reg O'Connell was evacuating about 1.30pm, following his wife who had already left with the couple's dogs. He couldn't see the fire from his home, but the wind had changed and it was heading in his direction.
The Braidwood and South Coast fires were pushed by strong wind, despite cool weather and some rain which Mr Marks said had taken the sting out of the Braidwood fire on Sunday evening by increasing humidity. In a weekend of extremes, snow is forecast at Charlotte Pass and a sheep grazier's alert has been issued for cold and strong winds on Monday, including for Canberra and the Southern Tablelands.
The fire was downgraded to "advice" level on Sunday evening. But people in Jembaicumbene, Bendoura and Majors Creek were told that if their plan was to leave, they should leave now towards Braidwood. In Bombay or Little Bombay, the advice was to monitor conditions.
"The message we are putting out to people is that this fire is a long way from done so you need to be paying attention," Mr Marks said.
Cooma Road is closed from Hawthorne Lane to Brick Kiln Lane, with roadblocks in place. The Kings Highway remains open.
The fire was burning across 20,800 hectares earlier on Sunday but by late Sunday Mr Marks said he did not have an update.
"It's a bit messed up out there," he said.