Two big bushfires between Canberra and the South Coast have joined into a single fire stretching 80 kilometres from just north of Batemans Bay up towards Nowra.
Firefighters said they hoped the weather would give some respite on Monday but feared that rising temperatures as the week progressed would re-intensify the threat.
The Bureau of Meteorology was forecasting a cooling in the middle of the week around Christmas Day and then temperatures back into at least the high 20s towards the weekend, with no prospect of significant rain.
"We are a long way from being out of the woods," RFS officer Marty Webster said. "We are expecting more challenging conditions."
As the gap between the Currowan and Tianjara fires closed, people were seeking sanctuary in Nerriga. About 30 people left their properties to stay in the Nerriga Hotel. Firefighters and residents hosed the building with water, protecting it from embers. Evacuees also assembled at Nerriga's community hall.
Throughout the expanding area of fire, the effort of 255 firefighters was immense. Ten aircraft and 50 pieces of heavy plant were utilised to try to bring the bushfires under control.
The North Black Range fire to the west of Braidwood was under control on Sunday night, albeit with occasional spot fires.
The Rural Fire Service could not give an estimate of how many properties had been destroyed in the two blazes. That would be easier when they were brought under control.
The RFS confirmed that at least two houses had been destroyed on Braidwood Road at Tianjara. There were unconfirmed reports of several other properties being lost.
RFS Southern Tablelands zone operations officer Lachlan Gilchrist said on Sunday, "It's a very dynamic situation because the fire is still very active and crews are focused on property protection and keeping people safe. It remains a concern."
He thought the winds could keep fires in the area going for weeks.
Fire-fighters were showing clear signs of fatigue. The rule is that they work no more than 12 hours in every 24 and no more than five continuous days - but the work is relentless in the toughest of conditions.
"Morale is quite high," RFS officer Marty Webster said, "but some days are better than others." He praised the team spirit.
During their down time, volunteers were being put up in the many motels in the area.
The changing winds were putting some properties in jeopardy but saving others. At one stage, Carol Joyce, the owner of Milton Country Cottages at Yatte Yattah on the coastal side of the fire thought the blaze was coming towards her business.
"In the middle of the afternoon, suddenly it looked like midnight. The sky was black and then the wind changed."
She's had a couple from Canberra put off their trip because they "were adamant it wasn't safe". Her policy is to refund if guests physically can't reach the place but not if the roads are open but clouded in smoke. The Canberra couple have postponed.
Further north, the fires to the west of Sydney threatened to join up into one mega-fire.
The small village of Balmoral, southwest of the city, was all-but destroyed by a firestorm that roared through the area twice in three days.