An elderly couple who died when a raging bushfire destroyed their northern NSW home had only been married for three years after finding love in later life.
Bob Lindsey, 77, and Gwen Hyde, 69, were found dead in their Coongbar home, 70km southwest of Casino on Wednesday.
A friend of the couple, Carol Dillon, told The Daily Telegraph the marriage of Mr Lindsey, a retired service station owner, and Ms Hyde, a farmer, had left the local community overjoyed.
“Everyone was pleased they got together... it was a lovely wedding, a quiet one,” she said.
Ms Hyde married Mr Lindsey after her husband Archie died, according to Ms Dillon.
She said the couple were no match for the destructive blaze that took control of the area.
“I’m hoping it was very quick,” Ms Dillon said.
Local resident Ken Crowther said news of the deaths was “devastating” for the small community.
Police investigating deliberately lit fires
Superintendent Toby Lindsay told reporters the circumstances of their deaths would be "subject to an extensive investigation".
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.
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 said.
"Obviously we'll see some easing of fire conditions even further and fire activity, but it will depend on how much (rain) we get."
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