NSW residents told it's too late to leave as fire 'destroys' properties

A number of out-of-control grass and bush fires are threatening lives and homes in Victoria's southwest

Hundreds of anxious residents on the NSW far south coast keen to return home to assess the damage after a ferocious firestorm ripped through Tathra are being warned the danger is not yet over.

Nineteen firefighters from the Rural Fire Service are battling the fire near Tathra amid "strong and gusty north-westerly winds" and temperatures above 38 degrees, assisted by helicopters and Fire and Rescue NSW.

'It's disgusting but it could have been a lot, lot worse, ' one resident said early on Monday morning.

"Our early indications are that the number of buildings impacted is likely to climb above 70, but we will confirm that with the work of the building impact assessment teams this morning", RFS Commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons told Network Seven.

"We saw literally hundreds of ember showers landing in and around the community of Tathra, burning in-between the streets".

"Emergency Management Commissioner Craig Lapsley told the ABC: "(The fires) still have hot spots in them and we still have wind, but nowhere near the wind speeds over the last 24 hours".

Bega Valley mayor Kristy McBain says there's a "level of helplessness as residents wait for information on what the real impact (of the fire) will be".

Crews began to assess the extent of damage caused by the out-of-control fires at first daylight today, with the devastation on the coastal town clearly evident.

Insurers have reportedly declared the events as a "catastrophe", meaning applicants will receive priority for their claims.

A mobile phone tower has also been damaged, severely reducing communications in the area.

There'll be no rest for firefighters as the fire "remains very active and needs to be contained and consolidated today", Mr Fitzsimmons said.

Firefighters have gained control of another fire that was burning in Bega, close to isolated properties.

More than 100 firefighters and three aircraft were working on the fire on Monday but numerous fires are now under control and there have been no serious injuries reported.

'There are no reports of any loss of life, so it will be very much about trying to track these people down, ' Ms McBain told AAP. Temperatures are expected to reach 30C in the Bega region tomorrow, with light easterly winds in the afternoon.

At least 90 houses and properties were destroyed by wildfires raging in various parts of southeastern Australia over the weekend, officials said on Monday.

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