‘Everything is gone’: Firestorm disaster


As many as 20 properties have been lost in an out-of-control bushfire in the northern NSW village of Rappville, one of two emergency warning fires blazing through the region.

A house has also been lost in Laidley, Queensland, where another fast-moving fire forced the evacuation of 60 homes.

In New South Wales, former ABC worker Carol Duncan said her father and his partner had lost "absolutely everything" except the "clothes on his back" in the Busby's Flat bushfire.

"My father's home has been destroyed. Everything is gone. Please help if you can," she wrote on Twitter.

"He has nothing. He's been a battler his entire life. And what he did have is now a pile of ashes. I feel utterly helpless," she wrote online before setting up a crowd-funding site that has already raised more than $6000.


She said her 83-year-old father is a "classic pensioner battler" and had survived lung cancer. He was sheltering from the fire in his shed until she saw warnings on Twitter and the NSW RFS sent a truck over to get him out.

"When I spoke with Dad after they'd taken him to the school, he told me they'd 'lost everything but the shed'. But I now know that the shed was also incinerated."

"So, the RFS people who went and got my Dad and his partner OUT OF THE SHED thanks to Twitter … saved my Dad's life," she said.

Another Rappville resident Danny Smith said: "I've lost the bloody sheds, the house, lost everything."

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


The RFS said the fire was very dangerous and spreading quickly. Four emergency warnings were issued for fires on Tuesday, but by 8.30pm two were left ravaging the area - at Busbys Flat and Drake.

Residents around the Busbys Flat fire, which included Rappville south of Casino, were told it's too late to leave as the fire bore down on them on Tuesday afternoon.

NSW Police are asking people not to return to their homes in fire-affected areas as it was unsafe to do so.




An evacuation centre has been set up at St Mary's Catholic College in Casino for those who were forced to flee.

Firefighters trying to stop the blaze are battling strong winds and hot conditions, which are expected to continue for several hours. The strong winds are blowing embers ahead of the firefront, creating spot fires that are threatening properties before the main firefront arrives. Earlier in the day RFS spokesman Greg Allan said the challenging conditions were not tipped to ease until later in the week.

"We're probably not going to see any reprieve until tomorrow," he told AAP.

"We've been seeing very strong westerly winds pushing that fire towards the east, still very high temperatures and very low humidity."


In Queensland, more than 30 fire crews battled to save houses as a ferocious fire tore through Laidley in the Lockyer Valley, 90km west of Brisbane, on Tuesday.

Fire crews managed to contain the fire at about 10.40pm, but locals said it was the most ferocious blaze they had ever experienced.

"I've lived here all my life, this is one of the worst fires I've ever seen," Joan Body told the Courier Mail.

"We don't know really until we find our family and friends, if they're alright."

The fast-moving fire destroyed one home in Laidley. Picture: Steve Pohlner
The fast-moving fire destroyed one home in Laidley. Picture: Steve Pohlner

Emergency warnings have also been issued for three other bushfires burning in northern NSW.

The out-of-control blazes at Kildare Road at Tenterfield and Long Gully Road at Drake triggered emergency warnings on Tuesday afternoon.

The Tenterfield blaze has since been contained, with crews to remain on the scene overnight to work to contain the fire.

The fire burning in the Drake area is currently over 72,160 hectares in size, has crossed over the Clarence River and is continuing to burn in an easterly direction.

"Residents in the areas of Ridge Road, North Ewingar Road, Grandview Road, Hunters Road, Valley View Road and Peckhams Road should take shelter as the fire approaches," the RFS said.

Amid sweltering heat on Tuesday total fire bans were enacted in the far north coast, north coast, New England and northern slopes areas, which are all experiencing severe fire danger.

People living in the worst-affected areas have been warned to ensure they have an escape plan.

Despite a cooler weather forecast from midweek - with temperatures expected to drop to the mid-20s - continued dry conditions meant fire dangers would not immediately fall away.