Essential Energy and other emergency teams work hard to restore critical infrastructure in Rappville.
Essential Energy and other emergency teams work hard to restore critical infrastructure in Rappville. Marc Stapelberg

Fire recovery: When will the power be turned on?

UPDATE 3.20pm: TRAINS have returned to the tracks at Rappville, just under a week after devastating fires burnt bearers,  and twisted metal tracks.

Peter Winder - Group Executive Interstate, Australian Rail Track Corporation said initial track repairs on the North Coast line were completed at 9am this morning, allowing the track to be returned to use.

Rail staff worked continuously to ensure rail track, destroyed by fire near Rappville last week, was reopened as soon and as safely as possible.
Rail staff worked continuously to ensure rail track, destroyed by fire near Rappville last week, was reopened as soon and as safely as possible. Australian Rail Track Corp

"Teams worked continuously to ensure the track was reopened as soon and as safely as possible, repairing damage to the track including 384 transoms over the six bridges affected by the fires, installing ten turnout bearers, and testing and verifying track circuits and level crossing circuits to ensure they were operating safely," he said.

ARTC staff and contractors were engaged from right across the country to ensure the network was back up and running as soon as possible.

Mr Winder said it was a an enormous effort from the 71 workers who put in a total of 3850 hours contributing to the safe return of the  network.

"The materials to complete the temporary repairs came from all over Australia including Melbourne, Sydney and Grafton. The materials were ordered on Wednesday and started arriving on site Thursday morning, which is an incredible effort considering the distance travelled," Mr Winder said.

Trains are currently running at reduced speeds through the Rappville area.  While ARTC's focus was to re-open the track safely, there will be further works required in coming days and weeks to ensure a return to normal operations.

"We'd like to thank our customers and members of the community for their patience while the repair works are underway. We'd also like to acknowledge the NSW RFS, emergency services and wider agencies for their work and support and the great efforts by the contractors and ARTC teams on the ground."



UPDATE 2.20pm: THE clean up after the Busbys Flat fire has become easier with the announcement waste levy fees will be waived.

The NSW Government has waived the waste levy fee for residents disposing of bushfire generated waste from Rappville, a declared bushfire Natural Disaster Area.

Environment Minister Matt Kean said the residents of Rappville have suffered an awful loss of home and property and now face the massive and heartbreaking task of clean-up.

"We've waived the waste levy fee to help the community dispose of their bushfire damaged goods quickly and responsibly," Mr Kean said.

"Building materials, furniture and any other bushfire generated waste is included.

The exemption applies until December 31 on debris and waste created by the Busbys Flat Road fire.

The levy will be waived on waste taken to the following waste facilities:
• Grafton Regional Landfill, 704 Armidale Road South Grafton
• Kyogle Landfill, 64-78 Runnymede Road Kyogle
• Nammoona Landfill, Dargaville Road Casino

Residents should check with their council on specific requirements to dispose of bushfire damaged waste.

The waste levy exemption only applies at the listed waste facilities and council waste facility gate fees might still apply. Waste facilities will need to ensure the waste is bushfire generated before they can waive the Government's waste levy.

"We hope this eases some of the pressure people are feeling after these devastating bushfires," Mr Kean said.


UPDATE 2.12pm: RESTORATION efforts continue across the Rappville and Ewingar area with Essential Energy crews rebuilding parts of the network destroyed in the fire last week.

The Rappville Fire burnt more than 40 000 hectares, with more than 350 power poles and associated equipment needing to be replaced or repaired.

More than 300 of these poles have now been completed with 47 customers without supply, however, Essential Energy expects these customers to have their power back on this evening.

Safety remains the focus for both the community and employees.

Call Essential Energy on 13 20 80 for further information.


Original story: WORK is continuing in Rappville and surrounding areas in an effort to "restore normality as quickly as possible" following the devastating bushfires.

NSW Rural Fire Service said there had been a "flurry of activity".

>>> 64 heartbreaking photos from bushfire-ravaged village

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"Fire & Rescue NSW is dealing with a number of burnt dwellings that have had asbestos detected," the organisation posted on Facebook.

"Essential Energy is working to restore power to the area.

"ARTC are working to remove and replace rail sleepers across the Rappville rail bridge so that the rail corridor can be opened.

"Firefighters and council are checking fire affected trees so that roads can be opened.

"It's a combined effort from the community, volunteer and government services working to try and restore normality as quickly as possible."

The bushfire at Busbys Flat is still being controlled but listed at Advice level.

It has burnt through more than 42,000ha and has destroyed 55 properties.

"There are also confirmed stock losses and major infrastructure damage throughout the fire area," the RFS said in a community update.

"Essential Energy is working to restore power to affected areas and agencies are actively canvassing the area to assist landowners and determine community assistance needs over the coming days.

"Please slow down when driving through affected areas.

"Firefighters and recovery services are active in the area and roads may be closed at short notice."

"Only minimal rainfall has fallen across some areas, therefore firefighters will need to implement planned back burning operations over the coming days to assist in containing the fire.

"These operations will likely commence in the north western area of the fire around Busbys Flat.

"People in this area should expect to see an increase in smoke and general activity."

Bushfire danger conditions are forecast to increase throughout the week.

It is likely that areas of the fire will see increased activity as temperatures increase.

A disaster welfare assistance point has been established at Rappville Public School, and will be open from 9am until 4pm each day until Friday, when the need for the service will be reassessed.

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