Tina Haarg, with baby Edward, surveys the fire damage at Rappville.
Tina Haarg, with baby Edward, surveys the fire damage at Rappville. Marc Stapelberg

'There's no words... I'm so, so sad': Mum's bushfire terror

UPDATE, 4.55pm: A RAPPVILLE mum says she is "so, so sad" after a horrific bushfire tore through her small community.

Tina Haarg and her family are safe, but their home, along with many others, has been destroyed.

"We knew there were fires in the area... but then the winds picked up and we started seeing a lot of smoke," she said, holding her young baby, Edward.

"And then there it was, right on our doorstep.

"There's no words. I'm so, so sad for everybody who has lost their properties."


UPDATE, 4.25pm: POLICE have set up a strike force to investigate the Busbys Flat bushfire, which is now being treated as suspicious.

On Tuesday the blaze impacted upon several rural townships, including Rappville, Coombell, Busby Flat Creek, Main Camp and Myrtle Creek, near Casino.

At least 30 structures have been damaged or destroyed, however the exact number won't be known until NSW RFS Building Impact Assessment teams inspect the area.

A house completely consumed by the fires at Rappville. Picture: Matt Coble/Twitter
A house completely consumed by the fires at Rappville. Picture: Matt Coble/Twitter

Following inquiries, detectives from Richmond Police District, with assistance from the State Crime Command's Financial Crimes Squad's Arson Unit and NSW RFS fire investigators, have established Strike Force Cleander to investigate the cause and origin of the fire.

Richmond Police District Commander, Superintendent Toby Lindsay said detectives will work tirelessly to determine the cause of this blaze.

"The community of Rappville and other surrounding suburbs have already been struggling with the crippling drought conditions," he said.

"Strike Force Cleander will leave no stone unturned so we can provide answers for the rural communities impacted by this disaster."


UPDATE 2.54pm: AUTHORITIES said the full force of the law will be thrown at anybody found to have deliberately lit the fire which devastated Rappville.

Minister for Police and Emergency Services David Elliott called the suggestion of arson a "bastard act".

He said: "It's not the time to play with matches, to play with fuel, or to play with anything that causes fire".

NSW Police acting assistant commissioner Dean Smith said as they were not yet able to access difficult terrain, they had not yet determined the origin nor the cause of the fire.

He said they were working closely with the RFS to find the cause. 

As a number of people living in the area had not yet been accounted for, he asked people to register their whereabouts with the Red Cross.

He said by registering, they could let people know they are safe.

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

"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."

RFS Deputy Commissioner Rob Rogers was amongst those offering their gratitude to firefighters who battled the blaze yesterday.

"I want to pay tribute to firefighters who worked in horrendous conditions yesterday," he said. "They did some incredible work - they saved lives, saved properties. Unfortunately not every property could be saved, but the important thing is preserving life. we owe them a debt of gratitude."

He said they understood people were anxious to find out if their homes had survived.

"We going through the painstaking work of looking at what structures have been destroyed - was it was a house?

"It's someone's life, and their property. Everything about them is contained in that property." 

Energy companies were also working to restore power, with more than 100 power poles downed in the fire.

NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian said she was "shocked and horrified" at the suggestion of arson.

She offered her thanks to all emergency services and urged those impacted to seek help from support agencies if needed.

Mr Rogers said they had called on interstate firefighters to help fight the fire.

He said they will support local crews and give them a much needed break before the next weather burst.


Original story: AT LEAST 30 homes are believed to have been lost in a fire that is being investigated as suspicious.

Superintendent Toby Lindsay this afternoon confirmed the Busby Flat fire was being treated as suspicious and the Richmond Police District, RFS and State Command Arson Squad were investigating.

>>> READ MORE: Blaze so bad that fireys had never experienced anything like it

RFS Superintendent Michael Brett said at least 30 homes have been lost in the Rappville area, but they will have more of an idea of a true extent of the damage this afternoon.

Many more outbuildings and sheds may have been lost.

At least eight homes and the hall were lost in the village alone.

The historic Rappville pub caught on fire twice, but firefighters eventually managed to save it.

Supt Brett said it was a significant fire event in appalling weather.

He said the fire took a dramatic run to the east and firefighters worked tirelessly under trying conditions to try to contain the fire.

He said many stories were coming out today about the good work from firefighters from all agencies involved, trying to protect property and trying to protect people's lives.

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