More than 140 firefighters are battling an out-of-control blaze in Sydney's south-west, where the NSW Rural Fire Service (RFS) has told people in some areas it is too late to leave.
Some remembered bad bushfires in the 1990s when homes were destroyed, and were determined to stay and extinguish embers or spot fires as they broke out.
The blaze was downgraded from emergency level to watch and act about 5.30pm on Sunday as conditions began to ease.
"Firefighters are in these areas and are ready to undertake property protection if required".
A large number of firefighters remain on the ground working to slow the spread of the fire, which continues to burn in a southeasterly direction towards Barden Ridge.
Aerial footage showed the flames leaping through a forested area, with thick smoke blanketing nearby suburbs and a suburban street at a near standstill as motorists tried to leave.
Once pristine bushland has been ravaged by the fires.
"This huge blaze has been fought in very high temperatures, very high winds, unseasonal conditions, and has been done so in a way which has seen, to date, no injuries and no serious damage to property", Mr Turnbull said.
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Many residents in Menai made a decision to remain at their homes and were kept busy fighting ember attacks.
Police believe the fire may have been lit on objective and are appealing for witnesses to contact them.
NSW Police on Sunday evening announced a task force had been set up to investigate whether the fire, which began in the vicinity of Leacocks Reserve in Casula, was deliberately lit.
Waterbombers were on the scene throughout the afternoon, however windy conditions are hampering firefighters's efforts.
"I think it's fair to say that it is highly suspicious, in the absence of any other cause like lightning", he said.
Residents in Sandy Point, Pleasure Point, Voyager Point, Alfords Point, Barden Ridge, Illawong, Menai and Bangor are still advised to keep a close eye on the situation and activate their bushfire survival plans if conditions change.
The flames briefly shut a section of the T8 train line, while several roads remain closed.
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