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Bushfire that ripped through northern NSW village ‘potentially deliberately lit’

Rappville resident Danny Smith lost his house in the bushfires in northern NSW.

Rappville resident Danny Smith lost his house in the bushfires in northern NSW.Credit:Nine News

The NSW Rural Fire Service said on Wednesday morning that the fire had destroyed a “significant number” of homes in Rappville, which has a population of about 250.

Assessment teams are yet to confirm the number of houses lost, but it’s believed to be as many as 30.

Other buildings, including the town hall, have also been lost.

“I’ve lost the bloody sheds, the house, lost everything,” Rappville resident Danny Smith told reporters at the scene.

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

Brayden Leschinkoho said he thought he was going to die.

“I messaged my Mum saying, ‘I love you’ and all that … yeah, I thought I was gone.”

Firefighters battle bushfires in Busbys Flat, northern NSW, on Wednesday.

Firefighters battle bushfires in Busbys Flat, northern NSW, on Wednesday. Credit:AAP

More than 40 bushfires are burning across NSW, with 13 yet to be contained. More than 500 firefighters are battling the blazes.

RFS Deputy Commissioner Rob Rogers said two out-of-control fires – at Drake near Tenterfield and at Busbys Flat near Rappville – had now joined together to form one large blaze.

That combined fire – at a “watch-and-act” alert level – is now burning across more than 90,000 hectares.

Smoke from the fires could be seen sweeping across the Tasman towards Lord Howe Island in a satellite image taken on Wednesday morning.

A satellite image shows smoke from northern NSW bushfires sweeping across the Tasman towards Lord Howe Island.

A satellite image shows smoke from northern NSW bushfires sweeping across the Tasman towards Lord Howe Island.Credit:Weatherzone

But firefighters expect to be aided by cooler local conditions on Wednesday, and some welcome rain is expected across northern NSW on Friday.

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“The conditions are much easier today but we’re in this cycle of bad weather; we get some easing days and then we’re back into it,” Mr Rogers told Seven News.

“We’ve already lost 44 homes up until these fires, and if we’ve lost that [30] number more, it’s going to be a really bad fire season,” he said.

Evacuation centres have been set up at St Mary’s Catholic College in Casino and Woodburn Memorial Hall for those who were forced to flee the Busbys Flat fire.

Road closures remain in place and residents are being urged to use extreme caution due to fallen power lines, fallen trees and ongoing emergency services operations in the area.

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Last month homes were lost in Tenterfield and a firefighter was critically injured as fires engulfed the town.

The RFS is urging people, especially those travelling during the school holidays, to work out their fire plans.

“It’s important all residents have that discussion about what you’d do if a fire threatens you,” NSW Rural Fire Service spokesman Greg Allan said.

“Have the chat about what you’ll do, especially if you don’t know the area well.”

The “Fires Near Me NSW” phone app will send alerts through push notifications when there are fires in your area.

“It’s about utilising the technology available to keep you and your family safe,” Mr Allan said.

With AAP 

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