NSW fire truck
A man is died after a bushfire swept through a property on the NSW mid-north coast. Image by Jason O'BRIEN/AAP PHOTOS
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Man dead as bushfire scorches NSW mid-north coast

Duncan Murray October 17, 2023

Firefighters are preparing to work through the night to deal with a bushfire sweeping through properties on the NSW mid-north coast.

The blaze has already resulted in the death of a 56-year-old man whose body was recovered from a property at Stony Creek Lane at Temagog, about 30km west of Kempsey.

While still to be formally identified, the man is believed to be a local who was trying to protect his property from the approaching flames.

His body was located by officers about 100m from a bulldozer, which was also burnt, NSW Police said.

Emergency Services Minister Jihad Dib expressed his condolences to the man’s family and friends, as well as those of veteran volunteer firefighter John Holmes, who died after a medical episode on the fireground on Saturday.

“Our emergency service volunteers give up so much to help keep others safe,” he said.

“In this case of the senior deputy captain John Holmes, he gave his life in service to our community.

“Our state is unfortunately all too familiar with the impact of devastating natural disasters and emergencies and this is something we have again seen this week with serious bush and grass fires across NSW.”

There are unconfirmed reports that further properties and homes could have been impacted by the fire, the NSW Rural Fire Service warned.

As of Tuesday afternoon, the blaze had burned through more than 11,000ha and remained uncontained.

There are some 89 fires around NSW, but most are on the coast and in particular north and south of Coffs Harbour on the mid-north coast area.

By early Tuesday evening, most of the affected areas around Kempsey and nearby towns were on watch and act warnings and the fires were still out of control.

The main areas of activity were at Belmore River, Clybucca, Crescent Head, and South West Rocks.

Firefighters were also working to contain a blaze 5km north west of Byron Bay, which was increasing in activity.

Another fire at Springwood Park Rd near Cope, north of Mudgee, was brought under control and an emergency warning lifted on Tuesday morning.

Local and out-of-area crews remain on the ground to battle the blaze with the support of fire-fighting aircraft, including a large air tanker, and could work through the night.

RFS district manager Liz Ferris said firefighters were trying to bring the blaze under control before conditions deteriorated on the weekend.

“We’re moving towards this containment strategy ahead of … worse weather predicted between Saturday and Sunday,” she said.