| 09.10,19. 01:49 PM |
NSW bushfires that destroyed dozens of homes may have been deliberately lit, authorities say
Firefighters were surrounded by burning homes (ABC News)
Authorities say a bushfire that destroyed up to 30 properties in northern NSW yesterday may have been deliberately lit.
NSW Rural Fire Service (RFS) superintendent Michael Brett said initial investigations indicate the fire around Busbys Flat, south-west of Casino, started on Friday night.
"We have identified suspicious activity in that area," he said.
"Our investigations are continuing."
Local police will lead the investigation, and be assisted by the State Crime Command’s arson squad.
The village of Rappville was hit hard in the blazes, and despite widespread destruction there are no confirmed fatalities.
However NSW Police officers are still searching buildings and trying to reunite families.
Superintendent Brett said some firefighters had told him yesterday's conditions were among the worst they had seen.
Emergency warnings were issued for four separate bushfires yesterday, that were all within 100km of each other.
However, favourable weather conditions today have meant the threat to properties has eased.
Robert Mustow, the Mayor of Richmond Valley Council which covers the Rappville area, said he was "broken" by the devastation.
"My heartfelt feelings go out to the whole community," he said.
"There's a big mill out there that's burnt out. It's a loss of employment not only for Rappville but for the Casino community, too.
"Yesterday the winds were ferocious and people said it was like Armageddon."