Australia

Police suspicious that NSW bushfire was deliberately lit in 'a bastard act'

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People are unaccounted for in the northern NSW bushfires with police still unable to access the fire-grounds.

A number of people have still not been accounted for in northern NSW bushfires, with police unable to access the fire-ground.

Acting police commissioner Dean Smith said the widespread nature of the fire in the rural hamlet of Rappville has made it difficult for authorities to access the fire-ground and put a number on how many people are unaccounted for.

"At this point in time, we're unable to fully confirm those numbers," the Acting Commissioner told a Sydney press conference.

Detective Superintendent Dean Smith.
Detective Superintendent Dean Smith.
AAP

"We do have a number of people who are unaccounted for. But we do not know what that actually looks like at this time.

"We are certainly working closely with our resources to make sure that everyone is accounted for."

The blaze ripped through the village on Tuesday afternoon while investigators are looking into if the fire was deliberately lit.

Blaze may have been deliberately lit

The Rural Fire Service believes the blaze started on Friday night in the Bushbys Flat area.

"Our investigations have come back that there was something suspicious that has happened in that area," a spokesman told reporters on Wednesday.

"Potentially (it was) deliberately lit."

**RE-TRANSMISSION** Local residents are seen near a bushfire burning next to Busby's Flat Road in Busbys Flat, northern NSW, Wednesday, October 9, 2019. (AAP Image/Jason O'Brien) NO ARCHIVING
Bushfires in Busbys Flat.
AAP

NSW Emergency Services Minister David Elliott said anyone who'd put lives at risk would face the full force of the law.

"It really is a bastard act if you are going to put your own community at risk," he told reporters in Sydney.

Premier Gladys Berejiklian said she was "horrified" to hear the fire was suspicious.

"I'm simply horrified and shocked that anyone would think it's smart to be lighting any of these fires - I hope that's not the case," she said at the Sydney headquarters of the RFS.

More than 30 homes lost

Up to 30 homes have been lost in the out-of-control bushfire burning in northern NSW.

The blaze at Busbys Flat, south of Casino, was one of two that were still at emergency warning levels on Tuesday night.

The NSW Rural Fire Service said a number of homes in the village of Rappville, with a population of around 250 people, were destroyed when the fire ripped through the town.

Fire crews have worked around the clock to battle flames and thick smoke which have enveloped Rappville.
Fire crews have worked around the clock to battle flames and thick smoke which have enveloped Rappville.
Facebook/Wayne Finch

"I've lost the bloody sheds, the house, lost everything," Rappville resident Danny Smith told reporters on the scene.

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

The fire in Casino.
The fire in Casino.
Facebook/Fire and Rescue NSW

Also losing his home in the blaze was 83-year-old John Duncan.

His daughter Carol has put together a GoFundMe page to help her father who she says "lost everything except the clothes he was wearing".

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

Video captured by the NSW Rural Fire Service shows the spread of flames in the vicinity of Seery Rd & Phillip Swamp Rd in the Mount Belmore SF.
Video captured by the NSW Rural Fire Service shows the spread of flames in the vicinity of Seery Rd & Phillip Swamp Rd in the Mount Belmore SF.
Twitter/NSWRFS

RFS spokesman Greg Allan told AAP firefighters were not expecting until Wednesday to see a reprieve in the hot and windy conditions they were experiencing as they battled the fire.

A blaze at Long Gully Road at Drake also tore through more than 72,000 on Tuesday.

Fire tears through a property at Grafton in the Northern Rivers region of New South Wales.
Fire tears through a property at Grafton in the Northern Rivers region of New South Wales.
Nine News

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.

For the latest updates and current alert levels please visit the NSW Rural Fire Service website.

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