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Rappville Public School becomes bushfire sanctuary

Rappville Public School plays key community role in major bushfire.

A wooden fence and pieces of metal showing bushfire damage.

Bushfire destruction in the community of Rappville.
Credit: ABC North Coast.

Rappville Public School has played a central role in helping protect the community during a bushfire that burnt out 20,000 hectares of grazing land south of Casino on the far North Coast.

Up to 50 displaced residents took shelter in the school early in the second week of the school holidays at the height of the fire, which destroyed the town hall and destroyed or damaged more than two dozen homes.

Principal Kathleen Collis said livestock were also grateful for a place that offered protection from the fire, which reached the school’s oval.

“We had goats who took up residence in the boys’ toilets, we had dogs in our staff room. I think there were sheep there as well,” she said.

As soon as the fire passed, planning started for a clean-up of the school, limited at first by a lack of water, electricity and the closure of the main road in to most traffic.

Minister for Education Sarah Mitchell has offered her sympathy to the community and expressed her gratitude to Ms Collis.

“My heart goes out to the residents and school community of Rappville,” Ms Mitchell said.

“People have lost homes, lives have been turned upside down but the locals have come together offering amazing support for each other.

“I want to acknowledge the Principal of Rappville Public School, Kathleen Collis, who I know has done an extraordinary job supporting her students and the community. Thank you Kathleen!”

Students have been offered temporary places at nearby schools for the start of Term 4.

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