Horror day for Australian firefighters as more than 12 bushfire emergencies declared in NSW

It's been a horror day for firefighters in Australia where more than a dozen bushfire emergencies have been declared in New South Wales alone.

Hot, dry and windy conditions have seen the blazes quickly spread.

And on Thursday night in one town, a wall of flames demonstrated just how large they can grow.

Fire in Forster north of Sydney towered over homes just metres from properties and startled residents who were suddenly face to face with flame.

That was just one of several emergencies declared on Thursday night in NSW.

Residents of Forster were delivered a warning; it was too late to leave. Settling in for a nervous evening, all they could do was hope and wait.

"It's been pretty worrying," resident Simon Carroll said. "We had some fires here on Sunday, but to get it at the end of the street is a totally different situation.

"It puts everything at risk."

Firefighters spent the night busily backburning trying to deprive the fire of fuel.

Their efforts paid off - the emergency downgraded, saving Forster for now at least.

"There is every likelihood of more damage and more destruction being occasioned by the rapid movement of these fires," said rural fire service commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons.