A TOTAL fire ban is in force for much of the New England North West on Thursday as fire crews brace for testing conditions.
A severe fire danger is forecast for the Northern Slopes area which includes Inverell and Gwydir council areas.
The New England area, which encompasses Glen Innes, Tenterfield, Uralla, Walcha and Armidale; along with the North West, which covers Moree, Narrabri, Walgett and the Warrumbungles, is also subject to the ban.
The Rural Fire Service (RFS) said the bans, which are in force from midnight Wednesday to midnight on Thursday, were needed because of forecast hot and windy conditions on Thursday.
Armidale is headed for a maximum of 27 degrees with the chance of a thunderstorm.
Under the total fire ban, no fires are permitted in the open and all permits for blazes are suspended.
Gas and electric BBQs are allowed, if certain conditions are met, but farmers are urged to take precautions when using harvesters with a safety alert to be issued, if there is a heightened risk.
Under the severe conditions, the RFS said locals should ensure their homes are well prepared for any fires, ensure a Bushfire Survival Plan is in place and remain vigilant, should a fire break out.
Hot, dry and windy weather is set to return to #NSW tomorrow (17 October). Six total fire bans will be in place with severe fire danger forecast for the Hunter, North Coast, Far North Coast, New England, Northern Slopes and North Western areas. #NSWRFShttps://t.co/oTrzctQ6fhpic.twitter.com/6mm0cZpoU9— NSW RFS (@NSWRFS) October 16, 2019
On Wednesday, firefighters confirmed 64 homes were lost in bushfires that swept through the north of the state last week, with more than 150 outbuildings also destroyed.
The Busbys Flat and Drake fires are still burning and are currently at advice level, one week after blazes swept through the area.
The RFS said 44 homes were destroyed by the Busbys Flat blaze and 19 in the Drake fire, which claimed the lives of Bob Lindsay, 77, and his wife Gwen Hyde, 68.
Another home was lost at the Purgatory Creek fire at Jackadgery, between Glen Innes and Grafton.
RFS Commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons said there had been more than 5000 bush and grass fires across NSW this season, with a million hectares of land burnt out.
"It's important to remember that this is no ordinary bushfire season and we can't afford to have anyone think this is just another year," Mr Fitzsimmons said in a statement.
"The crippling effects of the drought, unseasonably warm weather and strong winds have seen fires develop quickly and impacted on lives, farms, businesses, homes and communities."
- with AAP