Devastating NSW bushfires in Rappville destroys homes


On Sunday, the Duncan family from Turramurra visited their grandfather for a family reunion in Rappville on their drive from Sydney to Queensland for the school holidays. Two days later, fire ripped through the town completely destroying the family home. 

Kate Duncan from Turramurra shares what happened.

 “On Tuesday afternoon, my husband’s 83 year old grandfather John Duncan was at home at Rappville in far northern NSW when a fire storm approached without warning. After initially running for cover in their shed after embers caught the house on fire, he and his partner Cassie were rescued after his daughter tweeted to the RFS that he was hiding there. The shed was incinerated minutes later.

John and Cassie survived after being taken to the local school which escaped the fire. They have nothing left but the clothes on their back. This has left them with literally nothing.”

Kate’s husband Mitch shared on Facebook:

“We had a great catch up with family on my Pa’s cream veranda on Sunday. Who new it wouldn’t happen there again. My Pa lost everything in a huge bushfire. He’s safe but with only the clothes on his back.”

Four generations of Duncan men have a family photo on Sunday.

Charlotte & Lachie Duncan from Turramurra with their great grandfather on Sunday

Carol Duncan, John’s daughter shares her story about what happened and how Twitter saved his life:

“At 3pm, my Dad called me – quite distressed because they’d been told they could no longer evacuate. He said they would shelter in his large shed. I asked him to go over the road to the school but he said the school wasn’t open and ‘the shed is steel, it won’t burn’. I did years of bushfire media training with the NSW RFS and know only too well that heat will set fire to anything IN the shed.

At 4pm, they issued another emergency advice for the Busby’s Flat fire so I tweeted the NSW RFS and asked for sheltering advice and they said the firefighters were at the school, along with some residents.

The NSW RFS people messaged me, asking where my Dad lived, and sent a truck over to get my dad and his partner out of the shed and across to the school.

When I spoke with Dad after they’d taken him to the school, he told me they’d ‘lost everything but the shed’. But I now know that the shed was also incinerated …

So, the RFS people who went and got my Dad and his partner OUT OF THE SHED thanks to Twitter … saved my Dad’s life.

This tiny town will need support. My brother has just spoken to Dad who said to him, “We’re fine – we’ve still got the clothes we’re in but the guy next to me is in shorts and thongs …”

How a tweet saved two lives.

To help her Dad and the tiny village of Rappville get back on their feet, Carol has set up a Go Fund Me account. She says:

“Thank you for anything you can assist him with – even just kind wishes.

Dad’s tiny community of just 250 people are everything to him. Latest reports say that around 20 homes have already been destroyed and the NSW Rural Fire Service still have around 1,000 men on the ground.

All remaining funds will help other victims and rebuild the entire village. We will work with authorities to get this money to the victims of this tragic disaster.

Once the victims have relief, any excess funds will go to the NSW Rural Fire Service volunteers who risk their lives day in day out. They saved my Dad’s life and many more.”


Watch Carol Duncan talk about the devastating bushfires on The Project

Tips to protect your home from bushfires

  • Keep your gutters free from leaves.
  • Keep your gardens tidy by keeping the grass short, raking up the leaves and not having bush all the way to the back door.
  • Move wood piles and other combustible materials stored away from the house.
  • If you have a portable pump, know how to use it.
  • Have a plan, and make sure your family & friends know your plan.
  • Have a box ready that has important documents and a change of clothes, ready to go at a moment’s notice.
  • And most importantly, do all this before the fire season begins.

If you see a fire without a fire truck, call 000.

Download the Fires Near Me app to be alerted to bushfires in your area.

For more information visit the Rural Fire Service website  and don’t forget to ‘like’ the NSW RFS on Facebook.


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