NSW faces a two-day total fire ban, the third state of emergency in as many months and calls to evacuate its southeast.
With severe to extreme conditions forecast for Saturday, Premier Gladys Berejiklian on Thursday declared the week-long state of emergency would run from Friday.
“All our personnel know … they will be subject to forced evacuations, road closures, road openings and anything else we need to do as a state to keep our residents and to keep property safe,” Ms Berejiklian told reporters.
“We don’t take these decisions lightly.”
NSW’s first state of emergency since 2013 was declared in mid-November ahead of dangerous fire conditions, and another was implemented over Christmas.
A two-day statewide total fire ban begins on Friday, when very high fire danger is forecast for districts on or immediately west of the Great Dividing Range.
People near Batlow, population 1300, have been asked to leave by Thursday with the town expected to be hit by the Dunns Road fire on Friday.
“The township will not be defendable,” the RFS warned residents.
Holiday-makers in the alps and between Nowra and the Victorian border were asked to be out by Friday night, causing massive traffic queues and petrol shortages.
Emergency services are due to escort petrol tankers into Moruya on Thursday night after stations there and in Ulladulla and Corryong ran dry by 6pm on Thursday.
Others imposed per-customer limits to ensure enough petrol remained for firefighters.
Certain fuels were exhausted at sites in Merimbula, Mallacoota, Lakes Entrance and Bairnsdale.
NSW Rural Fire Service Commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons said Saturday’s conditions would be at least as bad as those on New Year’s Eve, which left a trail of ruined homes, businesses and utility lines.
At least 382 homes were lost in Tuesday’s fires, taking the number destroyed statewide since July 1 to 1298.
At least 15 people have died this season and more than 3.6 million hectares – three times the size of Sydney’s metro area – have been burnt.
Among those to lose their homes are neighbours of NSW Transport Minister Andrew Constance, who lives in Malua Bay south of Batemans Bay
“It’s unfair … I met four RFS guys yesterday who lost their homes. Beautiful neighbours of mine who lost their homes,” Mr Constance said as he broke down in tears.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison implored people be patient as they leave the embattled region.
He also said the NSW government had not yet asked the Australian Defence Force for additional resources for evacuations, such as those taking place in similarly fire-scorched eastern Victoria.
But defence forces have been providing refuelling, retardant loading and support services for RFS aircraft in NSW.
“We’ve certainly asked and received a lot of assistance from the federal government already,” Ms Berejiklian said.
“We’ve made several requests already. If the situation worsens we’ll make further requests as well.”
More than 110 blazes continue to burn across NSW, with more than 50 burning out of control.
Watch and act alerts were in place on Thursday night
for the Dunns Road fire near Batlow, the Green Valley fire near Jingellic and the massive Currowan fire extending from Batemans Bay to Nowra.
Seven people have died since Monday, including a person found outside a home near Cobargo. A Belowra man, 72, remains missing.
Soot-covered Coolagolite farmer Steve Shipton survived the same fire front but told AAP he thought he “was gone” as he tried to save his family and home.
He then found some of his 250-odd head of cattle had been “badly scorched”, forcing him to put them down.
“You don’t want them to suffer.”