Firefighters are looking forward to forecast rain after an anguishing week in which an elderly couple died and at least 29 homes were destroyed in northern NSW.
The bodies of 77-year-old Bob Lindsey and Gwen Hyde, 68, were found in their destroyed Coongbar home on Thursday after the blaze known as the Drake fire roared through the region on Tuesday afternoon.
Local Ken Crowther said the couple was well known in the small community about 70km south of Casino.
“It’ll be fairly devastating for us all,” he told Ten News.
The couple reportedly met late in life and married three years ago.
The couple’s friend Carol Dillon told News Corp “everyone was pleased” when Mr Lindsey, a former service station owner, got together with Ms Hyde, a widowed farmer.
“It was a lovely wedding, a quiet one,” she said.
Superintendent Toby Lindsay told reporters the circumstances of their deaths would be “subject to an extensive investigation”.
An elderly couple has died in the devastating bushfires raging across northern New South Wales. Despite the tragedy, many incredible stories of survival are emerging from the worst-affected town of Rappville. #7NEWS pic.twitter.com/wyJq3mY9Ey
— 7NEWS Brisbane (@7NewsBrisbane) October 10, 2019
The Drake fire which killed the couple had been burning for more than a month before it flared up and hit Coongbar on Tuesday. Fire investigators say it was caused by a lightning strike.
The neighbouring Busbys Flat fire – which has since joined up with the Drake blaze – only started on Friday evening and police believe it was deliberately lit.
At least 29 homes have been destroyed in both blazes this week, with that number expected to increase as NSW Rural Fire Service assessments continue.
A further 72 outhouses and two community facilities have been destroyed, according to the most recent count.
Our worst fear was the bushfires in the state's north claiming lives, now police have confirmed they've found the remains of an elderly married couple, killed as they sought shelter in their remote property. @hansinclair9 #9News pic.twitter.com/pGrQBm3iNZ
— Nine News Sydney (@9NewsSyd) October 10, 2019
RFS spokesman James Morris said firefighters from South Australia and Victoria, and personnel from the Northern Territory, had arrived in the state on Thursday to help out.
More than 30 bush and grass fires continued to burn in NSW on Thursday afternoon – and while 13 remained uncontained, Mr Morris said they would see favourable conditions in coming days.
“We’re likely to see some rain over the fire grounds on Saturday so that will allow us to see hopefully some containment,” he told AAP.
“Obviously we’ll see some easing of fire conditions even further and fire activity, but it will depend on how much (rain) we get.”