Lives and homes have come under threat from a bushfire in NSW's Hunter region, with people warned to take shelter as it was too late to leave.
An emergency warning was issued on Thursday afternoon for areas around Abermain near Cessnock after three bushfires joined and burnt up to and around the Kurri Kurri Hospital.
The fire was later downgraded to a Watch and Act due to easing conditions.
NSW Rural Fire Service sEmilie Koek said the immediate threat to properties had eased but residents should still listen for advice and be prepared to implement their bushfire action plan.
In an earlier statement the RFS said the fire was impacting properties on Boundary Rd, with firefighters undertaking property protection.
Ms Koek told AAP crews would conduct assessments in the coming days to determine whether any properties were damaged.
The emergency warning applied to Abermain, South Weston, Pelaw Main and Kurri Kurri as the fast-moving fire was pushed by strong winds.
"Your life is at risk. It is too late to leave," the warning said.
There was no fire damage at the hospital but staff remain on alert and residents in surrounding areas have been urged to leave for safer places.
About 200 firefighters and water bombing aircraft were working to control the blaze.
An evacuation centre was set up at the Cessnock Leagues Club.
At 6pm there was 73 fires burning across the state, with 35 uncontained and more than 1000 firefighters and incident management personnel working on fire grounds.
Hot and windy conditions made battling blazes more difficult with a heightened fire risk expected to continue into Friday.
"The majority of the state is forecast to have a high fire danger tomorrow, with many areas experiencing over 30ºC heat," the RFS said.
"Coastal areas will benefit from sea breezes however west of the divide will continue to have dry westerly winds.