The Rural Fire Service has defended its decision to reject two offers of assistance from Fire and Rescue NSW during a series of fast-moving bushfires that ravaged the south coast town of Tathra.
The RFS came under fire on Tuesday after they were accused of turning down additional emergency brigades to fight the Tathra bushfire hours before homes were destroyed on Sunday.
Incident logs reveal brigades from outside the area twice offered assistance when Triple-0 emergency calls began flooding in, The Daily Telegraph reported on Tuesday.
But these offers were rejected before the RFS issued a priority request for all available help around 3.40pm on Sunday.
NSW RFS Deputy Commisioner Rob Rogers explained to 7 News that the safety equipment of the metropolitan brigades wasn’t designed for the area in question.
“Around that area there were eight incidents going,” Mr Rogers told Sunrise.
“The fire in question that they offered us assistance with was in rural and rugged area.
"There was an urban pumper that doesn't have the safety equipment and is not designed for that area so we had already five bridgades in attendance, they were the ones dealing with that fire... that unit (Fire and Rescue) could not help.
“As soon as it got out of that terrain and into something where we could have those road based vehicles using it, it was asked for and it was used.”
Meanwhile displaced residents of Tathra are bracing for the worst ahead of their expected first look at their bushfire-ravaged town.
Authorities have kept locals out since the ferocious fire tore through on Sunday, amid fears of asbestos contamination, fallen power lines, unstable structures and other hazards.
A minibus is due to take some residents around the area to assess the damage after 10am on Tuesday, but they won't be allowed to return to their homes 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.
The hundreds of people who evacuated due to the fires 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 said.
"They're wondering what's next."
Ember attacks randomly reduced some houses to twisted tin and blackened rubble while others, sometimes next door, were untouched.
Exploding gas bottles sent glass and debris, including asbestos, onto streets, while a large kangaroo lay dead in a gutter beside a scorched home.
Cooler weather on Tuesday is set to help firefighters gain control of the blaze, which has so far burnt through more than 1200 hectares of bush.
Yahoo7 News has contacted Fire and Rescue NSW for comment.