Rally Australia cancelled due to NSW fires

Rally Australia has been cancelled because of concerns over destructive fires near the venue in the northeast of NSW.

Organisers initially proposed a revised, shortened route for the final round of the World Rally Championship but took the decision on Tuesday to abort the race as the Coffs Harbour region braced for extreme fire danger.

Hundreds of schools were closed and residents urged to evacuate woodlands as 50 fires blazed across NSW and the provincial government declared a week-long state of emergency.

Rally Australia chairman Andrew Papadopoulos said the cancellation was the only course available, considering the safety of the more than 1,000 people involved as officials, competitors and in support roles for the event that was due to start Thursday.

"It's not appropriate to conduct the rally," he said.

"Our thoughts are with the NSW community, especially the people who have lost loved ones, livelihoods and homes as a result of the fires."

Officials expected adverse heat and wind conditions to peak at unprecedented levels on Tuesday.

"The cancellation today comes after extensive consultation with the NSW Government, the FIA, emergency services and the local community," Rally Australia tweeted.

The WRC drivers' championship had already been decided October 28 when Estonian driver Ott Tanak clinched the title in his Toyota by placing second in the Rally of Spain.