Residents in northern NSW are being warned to take care and have an escape plan ready as hot, dry and windy weather delivers severe fire danger conditions to parts of the state.
An extreme fire danger rating was in place for the northwestern area on Monday with severe conditions in the far north coast, north coast, greater Hunter, New England and northern slopes areas.
Forecasters say the heat across northern and northeastern NSW could see maximum temperatures almost 15 degrees above average for this time of year.
The temperature reached 39C in Kempsey on Monday afternoon.
The RFS says total fire bans and a severe rating will continue on Tuesday in the far north coast, north coast, New England and northern slopes areas.
RFS spokesman Ben Shepherd says threatened residents need to know when they'll leave home and where they'll head.
"We're asking people, just be mindful that, especially while it is school holidays, understand where your children are and what they're doing because we need everyone to have that plan in place for if they're threatened by fire," he told ABC TV.
Jonathan How from the Bureau of Meteorology told reporters dry lightning - strikes which occur during thunderstorms with little or no rain - could spark new fires.
But relief should arrive by midweek with temperatures expected to drop to the mid-20s later on Tuesday and into Wednesday.
Australian Associated Press