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Police investigate northern NSW blaze that destroyed at least 15 homes

Police will investigate a suspicious blaze that destroyed at least 15 homes in a rural hamlet in northern NSW.

Authorities believe the fire that ripped through the Rappville on Tuesday may have been deliberately lit, in what Emergency Services Minister David Elliott says would be a truly "bastard act".

Police and fire investigators have formed a strike force to determine the cause of the fire.

Assessment teams on Wednesday were still confirming how many properties had been lost or damaged in the blaze, which is believed to have started in the Busbys Flat area on Friday night.

Allan Robertson lost his Rappville home and was left with the clothes he was wearing, his phone and "my worst thongs".

He said he was uninsured and his partner was in palliative care.

"It was just like a massive fireball. There was nothing you could do. The heat was horrendous," he told 10 News.

Another resident, Brayden Leschingkhol, told Seven News it was more like "hell from fire ... not from this world".

He became emotional as he recalled calling his mother, who lives in Newcastle, saying: "I told her I love her and basically told her goodbye".

Rural Fire Service deputy commissioner Rob Rogers said the Busbys Flat fire was merging with another at Drake near Tenterfield.

Initial assessments suggest 21 homes were destroyed in the Busbys Flat fire and Tuesday's breakout of the Drake fire, as well as two community facilities and 35 outbuildings.

Further buildings have been damaged, but the RFS says numbers will rise as more properties are inspected.

Transport Minister Andrew Constance tweeted that stretches of rail line had been damaged by fire, with the Rappville Rail Bridge destroyed.

Mr Rogers said a number of residents were treated for minor burns and breathing difficulties.

Some locals were still unaccounted for on Wednesday but authorities were working to get in touch with all residents who were forced to flee their properties.

The RFS says residents likely won't be able to return home for a number of days given trees are down across roads and power lines are on the ground.

Mr Rogers said cooler conditions were on the way for the area, which will assist crews greatly.

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The Busby’s Flat fire has consumed almost 12,000 hectares. Source: Breakfast


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