Hot, Fast And Furious: Heatstorm Lashes Canberra

Strong winds have lashed Canberra as an out-of-control bushfire rages on the outskirts of the city.

A watch-and-act alert has been issued for the fire burning southwest of Canberra at Pierce's Creek, which has grown to 113 hectares.

The fire is burning erratically but it currently poses no threat to property, and evacuations have not been ordered for residents or animals. But fire crews are warning dangerous conditions may linger for several days, with fire danger set as 'very high' for Sunday and Monday.

On Friday afternoon, light rain arrived -- but accompanied by strong winds.

Smoke rises from the Pierces Creek fire near Canberra on Friday (AAP Image/Lukas Coch)

The Bureao of Meteorology reported gusts of 70km/h around 4pm, with residents saying the weather was "terrible".

The weather currently experienced on the east coast is not a prolonged heat spell of the type we often see in summer. Instead this is a fast-moving band of very hot air which has moved from central Australia rapidly toward south-east Australia, and which has much cooler weather behind it. The fast progression of the system is causing strong winds and dangerous bushfire conditions.

Canberra's Emergency Services Commissioner Dominic Lane said winds are expected to pick up on Friday, making it difficult for firefighters to stop the blaze from spreading.

He confirmed students from a school in the area had been evacuated into Canberra and the ESA was working carefully with farmers and residents.

Temperature forecasts for Friday (Bureau of Meteorology)

"Canberra is a bushfire-prone area, we are the bush capital," Lane said.

"We do ask Canberrans to get ready, download the bushfire survival plan, go through the four simple steps of preparing that plan and getting ready for days like today."

A total fire-ban has been put in place for Friday in the ACT.

Canberra is heading for a maximum 33C on Friday.

NSW east coast now in 'severe' fire danger

Drier than expected conditions have put Sydney and much of the NSW east coast in severe fire danger.

A large mass of hot air moving across the state on Friday is driving temperatures up towards 40C in some parts. Brisbane and Melbourne both flirted with 30-degree temperatures, while Sydney was set for 36.

Coming days will see the warmth move north, and much of QLD in heatwave conditions.

Sydney hit its warmest temperatures since November, and ambulance services warned people to stay aware of heat exhaustion and other related issues.

"The system is now also affecting coastal areas, including Sydney, with many areas forecast to see temperatures reach the high thirties on Friday, following a night of significantly above average minimums," the Bureau of Meteorology said in a statement.

Water Bomber Dropping Fire Retardant On The Canberra Bushfire: Photo Credit: AAP

The NSW Rural Fire Service raised the fire danger to severe for the Southern Ranges, Illawarra, Greater Sydney and Hunter regions at lunchtime on Friday. Total fire bans are in place across those regions.

Wind gusts are expected to reach up to 80km/h in some areas, including Goulburn, adding to the propensity for dangerous bushfires.

"It's important on the first real hot and windy day (of the season) people take five minutes to discuss with their family what to do in case of a fire," RFS Inspector Ben Sheppard told AAP.

With AAP.