Australia

Emergency warning issued for Port Stephens bushfire

Residents have been evacuated from the area as the Salt Ash fire burned through 1300 hectares. Source: AAP

An emergency warning has been sent to residents in Salt Ash, in the NSW Hunter region, as a bushfire is fanned by strong westerly winds.

Strong winds have whipped up an out-of-control bushfire in the NSW Hunter region, with some residents being told it's too late to leave.

An emergency warning was sent to residents around Rookes Road, Lemon Tree Passage Road and Brownes Road in Salt Ash just after midday on Sunday as the blaze intensified.

"Strong westerly winds are impacting the fire ground and increasing fire activity," the NSW Rural Fire Service said.

The fire, which has burnt through more than 1480 hectares, was earlier downgraded as conditions eased.

Firefighters are trying to make the most of the better weather, continuing backburning operations in an attempt to contain the fire before winds picked up.

It's believed a caravan may have been destroyed in the fire but crews are yet to confirm, RFS Deputy Commissioner Rob Rogers said.

More than 80 bush and grass fires fires continue to burn across the state, dozens of which remain uncontained.

Winds of up to 60km/h are forecast throughout NSW and fire crews are on high alert.

A very high fire danger remains in place for NSW's northeast, as well as the greater Sydney region.

"Whilst it is a little bit cooler, those strong winds are going to keep fanning those fires," Mr Rogers told the Seven Network on Sunday.

"We're looking at those winds extending into around Wednesday."

Nearly 20 buildings, mostly outbuildings, have been destroyed by fires since late last week.

On Friday, helicopter pilot Allan Tull died while water-bombing a fire west of Ulladulla, on the NSW south coast.

It's believed the 1994 Kawasaki helicopter's water bucket became stuck in trees, pulling the chopper down.

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