‘I’ve lost everything’: Bushfires rip through 30 NSW homes

 

It's feared up to 30 homes have been lost in the state's north as two out of control bushfires ravage the region, with concerns the fires will merge.

Some residents have lost everything as warm and windy weather conditions continue to spur on 42 fires burning across the state.

A house consumed by flames at Rappville. Picture: ABC News/Matt Coble
A house consumed by flames at Rappville. Picture: ABC News/Matt Coble

WHAT WE KNOW SO FAR

42 fires burning across NSW, 13 are uncontained

Two Watch and Act fires are burning at Busbys Flat and Drake

Up to 30 homes have been destroyed near Busbys Flat

There are concerns the Busbys Flat and Drake fires will merge

500 firefighters, 200 vehicles are on the ground

Winds eased and temperatures cooled overnight

13 of the 42 fires are currently listed as uncontained and there are fears that the two major fires in Drake and Busbys Flat will merge, bringing the wreckage path of the blaze to 85,000 hectares.

"It won't take long for them to merge looking at where they are," a NSW Rural Fire Service spokesman said.

While conditions have eased overnight, downgrading both fires to Watch and Act, the threat is still active and residents are being asked to remain vigilant.

 

 

The RFS said up to 30 homes were lost in Rappville south of Casino as 80km/h easterly winds, daytime temperatures of up to 40C and low humidity stoked the previously contained Busbys Flat fire.

The town has a population of about 250 people.

Witnesses say smoke from the fires turned the sky pitch black by 3pm on Tuesday, as emergency services warned residents to take shelter as it was "too late to leave."

The strong winds caused havoc for firefighters by blowing embers and creating spot fires that threatened properties before the main firefront even arrived.

The bushfire is spreading quickly and RFS have told residents to flee. Pictured: The blaze in Grafton. Picture: Nine News
The bushfire is spreading quickly and RFS have told residents to flee. Pictured: The blaze in Grafton. Picture: Nine News

The fire in Drake is currently blazing across 72,000 hectares and firefighters are working under challenging conditions to protect homes in the area.

While fires have eased overnight, the blaze continues to burn in and around properties.

Almost 1000 firefighters battled the flames around Rappville, which had burnt through more than 13,00ha.

Among the homes lost was Amanda Crabtree's at Busby Flat.

"That is our house, don't look, don't look," a distraught Ms Crabtree told her husband as the flames engulfed the building.

The blaze takes hole of a home in Grafton. Picture: Nine News
The blaze takes hole of a home in Grafton. Picture: Nine News

 

"That is my recently built house burning down at the moment. Two years we have been in there."

Many of those living near people living near Rappville had self-evacuated.

Nine cameraman Matt Coble found himself in the centre of the destruction with his footage showing the sky change colour as the fire roared past him.

"I'm stuck in the middle of it here," he said in terrifying vision aired on Nine News last night.

"I've found some ground that's a road hopefully no one comes through.

"It's gone black again. It's three (o'clock) in the afternoon and it's pitch black."

An aerial image shows a fire on Kildare Road in Tenterfield. Aircraft are supporting ground crews to slow the spread of fire and protect homes.
An aerial image shows a fire on Kildare Road in Tenterfield. Aircraft are supporting ground crews to slow the spread of fire and protect homes.

Residents were last night being warned not to return to fire-affected areas, as an evacuation centre­ was set up at St Mary's Catholic College in Casino.

"We have had reports homes have been lost but it is not safe to get our teams onto those fire grounds," NSW Rural Fire Service spokesman Greg Allan said.

"These fires have been burning a number of weeks and were looking OK but the very strong winds, high temperatures and low humidity­ have kickstarted these fires."

Mr Allan said some relief was on the way with showers forecast for the state's north on Wednesday.

 

An image issued by the RFS shows the Busbys Flat Road fire. Firefighters are working to slow the spread of the fire burning in the vicinity of Seery Rd and Phillip Swamp Rd in the Mount Belmore State Forest. Picture: @FRNSW
An image issued by the RFS shows the Busbys Flat Road fire. Firefighters are working to slow the spread of the fire burning in the vicinity of Seery Rd and Phillip Swamp Rd in the Mount Belmore State Forest. Picture: @FRNSW

"The fire risk is lessening because we have had forecast possible rain including possible thunderstorm activity," he said.

"But with thunderstorms, we get rain and we get lightning which could cause more fires."

A tearful Rappville resident Danny Smith last night told reporters: "I've lost the bloody sheds, the house, lost everything.

"We might have saved the second place but everything else has gone."