Northern Tablelands MP Adam Marshall has urged residents to prepare for the absolute worst today as the entire electorate is under an extreme fire danger rating.
"Today's fire situation will be worse than NSW Rural Fire Service (RFS) initially expected," Mr Marshall said. "Conditions on the fire grounds are expected to become more volatile and unpredictable as the day progresses."
With the region bracing for these conditions, Mr Marshall said, it was vital residents had their bushfire plan ready - particularly after the tragedy at Wytaliba.
"This is as dangerous as it gets for our region," Mr Marshall said. "While people might want to stay and protect their properties, this is not the time for tombstone heroism. A home can be rebuilt, but a life cannot be replaced."
Extreme fire conditions mean fires can be uncontrollable, unpredictable, and fast moving, with flames in the tree tops and higher than roof tops.
Thousands of embers will be blown up to 6km from the fire front, causing other fires to start and spread quickly ahead of the main fire. Rates of spread can be up to 2km an hour. Leaving early is the safest option for your survival, the RFS advise.
People should leave early in the day if their home is not specially designed, constructed, or modified and situated to withstand a fire, and they are not well prepared and cannot actively defend it if a fire starts.
Eight schools across the region are closed today due to forecast fire conditions.
Ben Lomond Public School, Deepwater Public School, Emmaville Central School, Ebor Public School, Chandler Public School, Thalgarrah Environmental Education Centre, and the Armidale Waldorf School on Rockvale Road are shut today. Other schools may follow suit tomorrow.
The NSW Department of Education determined teachers and students in these school communities should stay away for safety reasons, Mr Marshall said.
Students from Wytaliba Public School, destroyed on Friday, will attend Glen Innes or Red Range Public Schools until property assessments at Wytaliba are undertaken.
Support was available to landholders already affected by fires, Mr Marshall said.
The NSW Government's Agricultural Services Hotline (1800 814 647) helps farmers concerned about their animals and livestock.
If landholders need emergency fodder, veterinary assistance, or care for animals in evacuation centres, they can call this number and speak to NSW Department of Primary Industries staff.
Armidale Regional Council has opened a refuge centre at Kent House, Faulkner Street, Armidale and an information hub at the Guyra Showgrounds.
The Glen Innes Showground fire evacuation centre reopened overnight; residents who decide today to leave their homes as a safety precaution can seek shelter there. Glen Innes residents can also seek shelter at the Golf and Bowling Clubs and the Services Club.
Fire danger ratings and up to date information on the fire situation in your area can be found at: https://www.rfs.nsw.gov.au/fire-information.
Residents are also encouraged to download and monitor the Fires Near Me App.
The Department of Education is monitoring the fire situation closely; all school closures will be listed on https://education.nsw.gov.au/public-schools/school-safety.