FRESH blazes have ignited in NSW while homes in Victoria have been destroyed and six people injured amid warnings the nation's bushfire crisis is far from over.
Firefighters continued to battle more than 140 blazes across NSW this morning - 30 of them uncontained - as authorities tracked a dangerous band of hot air moving north.
“We still have a number of threats and potential concerns today,” Rural Fire Service Commissioner (RFS) Shane Fitzsimmons said this morning.
“We've still got a lot of uncontained fire edge.”
A cool change early this morning brought to a close one of NSW's worst ever fire days, with only one home believed to be lost at Jugiong near the ACT border.
However the reprieve will only be short-lived, with temperatures expected to climb again by the end of the week.
But in Victoria, authorities believe a farmer's ute was responsible for accidentally starting a blaze in the state's west that destroyed at least four homes and injured six people.
Country Fire Authority (CFA) operations officer Ian Morley says a ute being used for harvesting is thought to have caused the 1150-hectare blaze which resulted in the evacuation of the farming community of Carngham near Ballarat yesterday.
The grassfire destroyed four homes, including the historic farm and horse-breeding property Carngham Station, 10 structures and livestock before it was brought under control last night, allowing residents to return to their homes.
At least six people, including a Carngham father and son who suffered radiation burns to their face and hands, were admitted to the Ballarat Base Hospital for treatment.
In NSW, fresh fires were still breaking out today, including one in the Blue Mountains in Lithgow, where flames are visible from the Great Western Highway.
“We've got reports of new fires occurring in places like Lithgow in the central ranges, west of Sydney,” Comm Fitzsimmons said.
“And of course we've got that very hot air moving northward across much of the northeastern areas of NSW today, which is why we have got statewide total fire bans in place today.”
NSW Emergency Services Minister Mike Gallacher said there were three main fire fronts: Sussex Inlet, Yarrabin and Yass - where massive stock losses were expected.
“The fires are still there, depending on where you are in NSW,” he told Macquarie Radio on Wednesday.
“They do need a break because sadly by the end of the week, by Saturday in particular, the very hot conditions will be back, particularly in the northern part of the state.”
A southerly brought a cool change about 4am today, with the mercury plunging 10 degrees over two hours in Sydney, but gusty winds were posing an additional threat to firefighters.
RFS spokesman Joel Kursawe said residents were being urged to stay vigilant as crews monitor the southerly change.
“Certainly it's going to be cooler ... however there is no rain in sight,” he said.
“We are going to take advantage of some milder weather conditions but we are certainly not out of the woods.”
He said almost 1000 firefighters and 90 aircraft were battling blazes and monitoring sites today but fire danger ratings have dropped from “catastrophic” to severe, very high or high.
However with a lot of fires started by lightning, crews would have a “very big couple of days if not weeks ahead”.
Arsonists pose another threat, with three teenage boys - aged 14, 15 and 15 - charged with deliberately lighting a fire in bushland in Sydney's west yesterday.
It took firefighters two-and-a-half hours to bring the blaze under control and it burnt out 10 hectares in the process.
Police in Melbourne are also investigating whether youths were responsible for a deliberately-lit blaze which threatened several homes including an aged care facility in the city's northwest early today, leaving local residents panicked and distressed.
Metropolitan Fire and Emergency Services Board spokesman Trevor Woodward said residents were calling in tears at 1.30am (AEDT) as the scrub fire in Brimbank Park at Keilor East threatened their back fences.
The fire was one of three deliberately-lit blazes in the park overnight.
“We had people crying on the phone, they thought they were going to be losing their house,” said Mr Woodward.
“They were panicking, `what do we do, do we go, do we leave'.
“It was very distressing for the people in the area and to think it was deliberately lit, it just really annoys you.”