NSW is in uncharted territory as bushfires burn across the state with a record 17 "emergency warnings" issued for blazes from the Blue Mountains to the Queensland border.
More than 90 fires are burning on Friday afternoon with conditions expected to worsen, NSW Rural Fire Service Commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons said.
"It's a very dynamic, it's a very volatile and it's a very dangerous set of circumstances that we're experiencing," he told ABC TV.
The RFS tweeted after 4pm: "A number of fires in the north coast and northern NSW areas are becoming more intense - and more dangerous. Some are creating their own weather conditions."
At 5.30pm, there are 96 fires burning across the state, with 57 yet to be contained. 17 fires remain at Emergency Warning, mostly across the north coast and northern NSW. If you are near a fire at Emergency Warning level, take action now to protect your life. #nswrfs#nswfirespic.twitter.com/FWIQs2o0ES— NSW RFS (@NSWRFS) November 8, 2019
MidCoast Council mayor David West is anguished as residents face dangerous conditions near Taree.
"From my personal perspective, it's horrifying," he told AAP.
"I've never felt a sense of anguish that I do now, the fear for my community."
Mr West said of one fire near Forster: "It was literally a wall of yellow, horrible, beastly, tormenting flames. It was a horrendous beast."
The mayor - who lives in Brimbin - is particularly concerned about an out-of-control fire burning near Hillville south of Taree.
That fire crossed the Pacific Highway as it spread quickly.
The highway is closed in both directions between Taree and Bulahdelah. The Pacific Highway is also closed at Port Macquarie between the Oxley Highway and Hastings River Drive.
"It (the Hillville fire) moving toward the coast at a fairly rapid rate," Mr West said.
"The area that I live in hasn't been burned in about 30 years. There's a huge amount of fuel load."
A number of schools have been closed in the area due to the bushfires.
#UPDATE: NSW is in now the midst of a Bushfire Emergency the state has never faced before.— Nine News Sydney (@9NewsSyd) November 8, 2019
The @NSWRFS says the danger right now is 'unprecedented'.
There are 99 fires currently burning, 55 are uncontained and 14 at Emergency Warning level. @JayneAzzo@gracefitz_9#9Newspic.twitter.com/SBInVJErnI
MidCoast Council deputy mayor Claire Pontin - who lives in nearby Hallidays Point - says the area is "tinder dry".
"It's just crispy. In places, you can hear the leaves crunching under your feet."
There are 17 emergency warnings current in NSW at: Woodford in the Blue Mountains, Hillville, Crowdy Bay National Park, Tapin Tops National Park, Port Macquarie, Willi Willi, the Mistake State Forest in Nambucca and surrounds, Tyringham, Wandsworth, Carrai Creek, Chaelundi, Stockyard Flat, Torrington, Bora Ridge, : Jacobs Spur and Coombes Gap.
"Unfortunately we are in uncharted territory this afternoon - we've never seen this many fires concurrently at emergency warning level," Mr Fitzsimmons told ABC TV.
Mr Fitzsimmons earlier said two homes had been damaged or destroyed in the fire burning at Stockyard Flat near Walcha with assessors yet to reach the site.
Fire and Rescue NSW Commissioner Paul Baxter says at-risk residents need to be ready to act.
"Once a fire gets to an emergency alert level we may not be able to get to help you," Mr Baxter told reporters.
"We haven't got the resources to be able to put into every single area so you must be prepared to survive yourself."
The escalated fire risk comes after a man, aged in his 50s, suffered serious burns to his legs and hands while trying to defend his rural property in Yarrowitch, east of Walcha, on Thursday.
Dust is expected to be blown across much of the state's northeast on Friday with the Central Coast and Newcastle areas the worst affected.
The fire danger should lessen over the weekend, although threat levels were forecast to rise again on Tuesday or Wednesday next week, Mr Fitzsimmons said.
Sutherland Shire firefighters have been assisting colleagues in northern NSW during the fire emergency.
"We just want to acknowledge our awesome Shire volunteers, who have been helping our colleagues fight significant bush fires in northern NSW," NSW Rural Fire Service Sutherland Shire said in a Facebook post.
"Over the past 86 days, four of our firefighting appliances have been deployed north of the state, with a total of 126 firefighters rotating on shifts every 3 days. Simply a wonderful commitment!
"The next few days will be extremely challenging, and we wish everyone a safe firefight.
"It is important we acknowledge the support networks that our firefighters have, being family, friends and employers."
Bureau of Meteorology duty forecaster Rose Barr says there should be a brief reprieve in fire weather conditions as temperatures cool over the weekend.
"(But) from Monday conditions will warm up again and temperatures will heat up significantly," she told AAP.
Rising temperatures are forecast to bring elevated fire dangers across much of NSW by Tuesday.