About 150 bushfires were burning across New South Wales and Queensland on Tuesday morning, as the sunshine state prepared for extreme heat and severe fire danger and Sydney struggled with continuing poor air quality.
There were 119 bush and grass fires in NSW on Tuesday morning, 48 of them uncontained.
No total fire bans were in place for Tuesday, but fire danger was “very high” along the NSW coast and in the northern parts of the state.
A fire burning in the Blue Mountains near Katoomba was downgraded from a watch and act level to an advice alert on Monday night.
Firefighters had previously warned residents the 600-hectare fire was spreading towards built-up areas.
On the NSW south coast the Currowan fire decreased overnight after gusty winds pushed it through more than 16,000 hectares, but it continued to burn in a north-easterly direction towards Turmeil and Bawley Point.
It remained at a watch and act level. Residents of South Durras area were told to go to Batemans Bay if it was safe, and those in the Turmeil area to go to Ulladulla.
NSW police are concerned about the number of people deliberately lighting fires.
Two million hectares of NSW land have been burnt since July in more than 7,000 fires, with authorities dubbing it the “most challenging bushfire season ever”.
Six people have died and 673 homes have been destroyed.
In Sydney “very heavy smoke” from fires near Warragamba dam brought the air quality to hazardous levels on Monday evening, with the state government saying Tuesday would also be “poor due to particles”.
A temperature inversion forming over the city on Monday night could trap smoke in the Sydney basin on Tuesday, the NSW Rural Fire Service said.
“Smoke levels are expected to be similar if not worse than experienced over recent mornings,” the RFS said.
NSW Health said children, older adults and people with heart and lung conditions were the most susceptible to smoke and air pollution.
“If you have asthma or a lung condition, reduce outdoor activities if smoke levels are high and if shortness of breath or coughing develops, take your reliever medicine or seek medical advice,” it said.
A strong wind warning was in place for the Hunter, Illawarra and far south coast, and smoke haze was forecast for much of the state, in particular the Sydney, Hunter, mid north coast, and northern rivers regions.
Heavy smoke haze was also affecting the Bruce Highway at Colosseum in Queensland.
The fire danger rating was classed as severe in parts of southern Queensland, with dry and windy conditions making conditions hazardous for firefighters.
Temperatures were expected to reach 40C in areas such as the Lockyer Valley and Scenic Rim by the end of the week.
The Gold Coast and Sunshine Coast could experience temperatures of 35C, while in Brisbane it could reach 37C on Friday.
Australian Associated Press contributed to this report