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A man has died while trying to protect his mother’s property from bushfire on the NSW Mid North Coast, as a second blaze threatens homes in the state’s Central West and another burns towards the village of Brunswick Heads, north of Byron Bay.
The body of 56-year-old Richard Mainey was found on a property at Temagog, west of Kempsey, about 10.15pm on Monday, after fire ripped through the area and the man was reported missing.
The bushfire burns on a property in Moparrabah near Kempsey.Credit: Chelsea Robb/Facebook.
Police entered the property with the assistance of the Rural Fire Service and found the man’s body about 100 metres away from his bulldozer, which was destroyed by the blaze.
“We do believe that he was perhaps putting in some [fire] lines to try and prevent the fire,” Mid North Coast Police District superintendent Shane Cribb said, adding the man’s family was devastated.
At least three properties have been damaged by the Moparrabah fire, the RFS said, which has burned through more than 20,000 hectares since it began on Monday afternoon.
In nearby Willawarrin, Macleay Valley Rural Supplies store owner Loretta Simpson said the village was surrounded by fire and people were on edge. Only four years ago, the Black Summer fires burnt into the village.
“At the moment, we’re safe, pending the wind,” she said. “We’ve got fires to the east of us, to the west of us, and to the south, so we are kind of in a horseshoe.
“It came over pretty dark and eerie [on Monday], the same way it did in 2019, and we just had huge winds all afternoon and night.”
In the far north of the state, residents at Bayside estate, near Brunswick Heads, were hosing their roofs on Tuesday afternoon as a fire burned its way towards them through the Tyagarah Nature Reserve.
“The plume of smoke is huge and it’s moving fast. The winds are really strong up here,” resident Peter Tanner said.
“There’s a lot of people standing around on the street looking at it … and there are cops going up and down the street, saying ‘Not yet, don’t worry, we’ll let you know when you need to go.’ ”
Bayside is the first residential area north of the fire front, and is home to an emergency pod village that opened in March to accommodate 116 flood victims who lost their homes in last year’s disaster.
“Those poor people have just been through a flood, it’s tragic,” Tanner said. “They finally get somewhere to live and then it’s straight into a fire.”
Meanwhile, a fire north of Mudgee that has burnt through 833 hectares was briefly the subject of an emergency warning on Tuesday afternoon. The fire at Cope has since been downgraded to Advice, but the RFS said it was still posing a threat to properties and residents should be on alert. More than 600 firefighters are tackling the blaze.
Byron Bay beachgoers watch as the bushfire burns nearby.Credit: Danielle Smith
Across the state, over 1400 firefighters and support workers have been deployed to fight 65 bushfires, 22 of which are not yet contained.
NSW RFS spokeswoman Angela Burford warned temperatures were likely to rise later into the week.
“Saturday there is a chance we’ll see a return to some extreme fire danger, predominantly in north-eastern NSW,” she said.
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