Displaced residents of Tathra are bracing for the worst ahead of their first look at the bushfire-ravaged town on NSW's south coast.
Authorities have kept locals away since the ferocious fire tore through on Sunday due to concerns about asbestos contamination, fallen power lines, unstable structures and other hazards.
A minibus is due to take some residents around the area to look at the damage about 10am on Tuesday, but they won't be back to their homes until at least Wednesday due to ongoing safety concerns.
Nearly 100 properties - houses, caravans and cabins - were incinerated by the blaze, powered by dry, gusty winds and high temperatures - 69 have been completely destroyed, and 39 sustained significant damage.
Locals have described Sunday's hot and windy conditions as "horrendous" when the fast-moving firestorm engulfed the town.
Meanwhile, the Rural Fire Service has responded to concerns it declined offers of help from Fire & Rescue NSW before the fire raged out of control, citing the remoteness of the area and the terrain.
"There was a number of fires going on right around the state and that area and we brought the bare resources as quickly as we could that was appropriate," RFS Deputy Commissioner Rob Rogers said.
The offer of an urban pumper wouldn't have been appropriate because of the terrain.
"As soon as the fire left the rugged area and into more established areas we then asked for assistance because we could obviously use as many units as we could," Mr Rogers said.
"I will stand the record of the Rural Fire Service and its protection to the communities through a lot of difficult fire seasons.
"It works well with its other emergency service including Fire and Rescue NSW."
Some Tathra residents wondered whether it would have made much difference.
"The fire was a long way out when it started. A long way out. Like, trucks couldn't have got where the fire was," Matt Sherlock told the Nine Network.
Residents Steve Jory, Terry Dixon and Geoff Munns - all of whom lost their homes - said emergency services were very actively fighting the fire with waterbombers.
"From what I could see they were doing all they could," Mr Jory told 2GB radio.
"A lot of us never actually saw the fire come until it was actually upon us. We don't get radio service or signal," Mr Munns added.
Mr Sherlock was more concerned about prohibitions on backburning.
"I think there should be a lot more backburning happening, which we've been fighting for and we can't get it because of the new laws. It's ridiculous," he said.
Hundreds of evacuated residents remained at a recovery centre at nearby Bega on Monday night, under the care of charities and volunteers.
"I look at the faces in here and I see worry," one displaced resident, standing in a corner of the rescue centre, told AAP. "They're wondering what's next."
Cooler weather overnight and on Tuesday is set to help firefighters gain control of the blaze, which has so far burnt through more than 1200 hectares of bush.
© AAP 2018
Image Credit: AAP Image/Dean Lewins