‘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.
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.
Watch & Act. Busbys Flat Rd fire. Easing conditions across the fire ground. Residents should follow the advice of fire fighters, remain vigilant and be ready to act should the fire threaten #nswrfs #nswfires pic.twitter.com/MNmucWrWUc— NSW RFS (@NSWRFS) October 8, 2019
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 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.
"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."
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.
"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."