Three American crew have died after a water-bombing plane crashed while battling bushfires in southern NSW that flared amid gusty winds and scorching temperatures.
The large aerial water tanker was swallowed by flames after crashing in the Snowy Mountains region on Thursday afternoon as a number of bushfires raged at emergency warning level.
The RFS said losing the C130 Hercules was a "confronting and sobering reminder of the inherent risks associated with firefighting".
At one point there were five emergency blazes challenging firefighters, who had taken advantage of recent rain to bring many of the fires under control.
At 6pm, there were still three emergency blazes at Clyde Mountain and Countegany on the South Coast and Glen Allen in the Snowy Monaro region.
Duncan McLaughlin, who lives at Bumbo Creek southwest of Moruya, captured a bushfire tearing through his property in a series of videos posted to Facebook.
"It's phenomenal how hot it is," he said in one video on Thursday.
"I don't wish this on anybody."
Thursday's bushfires were threatening the same areas in southern NSW that were scorched in recent weeks.
"Down through the region it's been very hot, very dry and it's been very windy," RFS Commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons said.
"It was another very difficult, aggressive fire weather day, which resulted in so many of these fires spreading and breaking out."
NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian said the water bomber crash was a stark illustration of the lethal conditions many were braving across an unprecedented bushfire season.
Thursday's fires were fanned by the return of dry and gusty winds as well as soaring temperatures that climbed past 40C in places.
Temperatures reached 42C in western Sydney at Penrith and Richmond and further inland at Coonamble and Bourke.
Authorities believed they'd braved the worst of the bushfire threat by 5pm.
"We're confident that weather conditions are easing over the next few hours and hopefully we won't see any further concern beyond the fires at emergency level already," Ms Berejiklian told reporters.
NSW Environment Minister Matt Kean urged residents to slash power use as the bushfires and high temperatures put pressure on the state's electricity grid.
"The tight conditions in the electricity system this afternoon are largely a result of the state's weather conditions, bushfire impacts on transmission lines and mechanical issues at some of the state's power stations," he said.
Bushfires cut power to more than 7500 customers on Thursday afternoon.
Seven NSW fire regions stretching from the Queensland border to the Victoria border were under total fire bans including greater Sydney.
All seven regions were deemed to have a "severe" or "extreme" bushfire risk.
There were around 70 fires burning across NSW at 6pm, with more than half of those uncontained.
The NSW death toll from this season's unprecedented fires has now climbed to 24 while more than 2000 homes have been razed.
Fire danger ratings will return to low-moderate or high across NSW on Friday.
Mr Fitzsimmons and Emergency Services Minister David Elliott will on Friday morning farewell crews from Canada and the United States who are returning home after their deployments in NSW.
Australian Associated Press