Shoeless and scared children flee NSW fire

Steven Trask
At least two lives and 100 homes have been lost as bushfires ravage northern NSW

Traumatised children have fled a raging fire - which claimed two lives in northern NSW - with such haste that they arrived at an evacuation centre without shoes.

Glen Innes Red Cross coordinator Margaret Kiehne has described how residents fled the small Northern Tablelands town of Wytaliba as the Kangawalla fire raged towards them on Friday night.

People had little more than the clothes they were wearing when they arrived at the evacuation centre at the Glen Innes showgrounds.

"The children arrived in school uniforms - some had no shoes, just shorts and shirts," Ms Kiehne told AAP on Saturday evening.

"When the first lot of children arrived they were very traumatised. When the second lot came it was very emotional. They saw their mates, ran to them and threw their arms around them."

The bushfires have so far claimed two lives and authorities expect the death toll to rise. Seven people are missing.

One of the victims has been named as 69-year-old Wytaliba resident Vivian Chaplain.

It is thought some 20 properties have been destroyed in Wytaliba with the local primary school severely damaged.

One Wytaliba man had no identification when he showed up at the evacuation centre, Ms Kiehne said.

The evacuation centre registered at least 33 people on Friday. They are now staying with friends or at motels in Glen Innes.

Some are already talking about heading back to start rebuilding.

"One of the men said to me today, just get me a tent and a camp bed and I'll go back and start building," Ms Kiehne said.

Glen Innes Severn Council mayor Carol Sparks says Wytaliba - a small community of about 100 people - is in shock.

"Everybody knows each other and there are people missing that we haven't able to contact. It's very worrying," she told AAP.

Clarence Valley councillor Richie Williamson says the stories of devastation are "chilling".

"I was at Coutts Crossing, which is about 20 kilometres from Nymboida," he told ABC TV.

"It was the eeriest, strangest and most bizarre day that I've ever experienced.

"The sound and the roar of the fire front, and just the sheer anger that the fire front presented in almost an instant, is what's probably stuck with me the most."

Police Deputy Commissioner Gary Worboys says "a number of people remain unaccounted for in the New England area".

Premier Gladys Berejiklian on Saturday evening said "seven people are currently unaccounted for".

"The situation is very serious," she said in a statement.

"Our thoughts and prayers go to the families and loved ones of those who have died and to all who have been affected by these fires."