Rural Fire Service Blue Mountains chief David Jones has urged Mountains residents to consider leaving their homes before late this afternoon [Monday], to avoid the predicted catastrophic fire conditions tomorrow.
Superintendent Jones, district manager Rural Fire Service Blue Mountains, said "I really think leaving is the best option, we don't want to lose lives."
"I encourage people to go, I think it's the best. My family are going, even though my house at Medlow Bath is well prepared."
The temperature is expected to reach 35 degrees, coupled with winds potentially gusting up to 40 and 50km/hr and a relatively low humidity (which removes ambient moisture) of 15 per cent and no rain predicted in the immediate future, he said.
"We have significant fuel on the ground and our topographical challenges ... that's where we struggle."
Rather than relying on going to a local evacuation centre, which may not be safe if conditions changed, he urged residents to be directed by police and emergency services personnel. The fire danger indices were "a little bit higher" for tomorrow than Winmalee faced in the 2013 bushfire which destroyed 200 homes.
In the Victorian Black Saturday 2009 fires, 90 per cent of people who died, died in their cars, he said.
But Supt Jones said 2,500 RFS volunteers were ready for tomorrow, as well as their sister emergency services, including NSW Fire and Rescue, thanks to careful planning through the incident management team.
"I've been working with my counterpart at Fire and Rescue ... RFS has an initial response and then a long-term plan."
A state wide total fire ban has been declared for today and tomorrow.
He asked residents who were leaving to have a plan, "pack a bag" including any medications they needed and be prepared that they may not be able to get back into the Mountains tomorrow night. He also said not to rely on the trains as they may need to be stopped in a fire emergency.
"We've been planning, training, resourcing ... we have great people, they walk on water sometimes, we are as ready as we can be".
Supt Jones said investigations were still underway into the cause of the Woodford fire last Friday. That fire destroyed 44 hectares and 38 crews were needed to get it under control and build containment lines into the weekend. It would continue to be patrolled all week.
Mayor Mark Greenhill said the community should prepare for the worst, look out for their neighbour, but he was hoping beyond hope "for a boring day tomorrow".
"To our emergency services - words are not enough. You constantly earn the love and respects of this community."
"My message to the community is this: stay alert and stick together. That's how we get through these things."
For updates on fires use the app firesnearme or go to https://www.rfs.nsw.gov.au/fire-information/major-fire-updates. There is also information on where to evacuate on the bushfire information line 1300 NSW RFS.
Meanwhile, St Columbas Catholic College at Springwood and both campuses of Blue Mountains Grammar School will be closed on Tuesday due to the catastrophic fire conditions predicted.
Several Blue Mountains high schools will decide later today whether to close the schools tomorrow.
The Department of Education advised people to check for school closures at: https://education.nsw.gov.au/news/announcements/list-of-schools-temporarily-closed-due-to-fires.