NSW heat wave hits the district hard, but not as hard as in the west

After a brief reprieve from the heat early in the week, the temperature in Braidwood soared again, reaching 35 degrees Celsius on Thursday, 38.5C on Friday and 39.5C on Saturday before dropping to a comfortable 28.5C on Sunday.

A church destroyed near Uarbry. Photo: Nick Moir.

A church destroyed near Uarbry. Photo: Nick Moir.

Despite the sweltering heat, high winds and a lightning storm on Saturday night, no fires broke out near Braidwood during the heatwave.

The outcome was “very successful,” according to Southern Tablelands RFS operational officer Daniel Osborne.

“This weekend posed a real risk for us, as far as fires are concerned,” Mr Osborne said.

“Residents have taken advice during the Total Fire Ban, which is good to see”

NSW wide temperatures broke the February warmth records two days in a row, making south-eastern Australia the hottest place on earth over the weekend.

Those at Ivanhoe Airport, in the Central West, could claim the prize for being in the hottest spot on the planet, with the location recording a maximum of 47.6C on Saturday.

Richmond in Sydney’s north-west was just slightly cooler, with a recorded top of 47C. Most of the state exceeded 12 degrees above the norm for February temperature on Saturday.

Bushfires were believed to have destroyed about 30 homes across the state as of Monday, with Uarbry, Cassilis and Pappinbarra particularly hard hit.

RFS commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons praised the "extraordinary effort" of firefighters. "What they saved yesterday will far outweigh the losses that we report today," he said on Monday.

Rural Fire Service spokesman Ben Shepherd said it was a matter of pure luck that the worst fires flared in parts of the state that were not heavily populated.

"We were extra lucky we didn't see fires through parts of the lower Hunter Valley," Inspector Shepherd said. "Whilst they didn't impact on majorly populated areas, the fire activity was still extraordinary."

More than 2500 firefighters and 50 aircraft were mobilised to battle 200 fires on Sunday. There were no reports of fatalities in the weekend’s fires.

With additional reporting by Rachel Olding, Peter Hannam, Matt O'Sullivan