ONE man is dead and another is recovering in hospital after fire ripped through a backyard caravan near Tenterfield.
The flames took hold just before 10pm on Monday and within minutes engulfed the van at the back of a Manners St home.
A 45-year-old man suffered burns to his face but managed to flee to safety before he raised the alarm about another man still trapped inside.
Police and fire crews raced to the scene but there was little they could do, forced back by the intensity of the blaze.
A nearby neighbour, who did not want to be named, said she was watching television when she noticed a glow on the backyard fence.
“I went outside thinking it was lights coming from the showground but saw flames were right up in the air,” she said.
“I rang triple-0 because I thought if this really goes, it could go up to our garage, where I’ve got petrol and lawnmowers.”
The woman frantically rushed over to try and douse the flames.
“I never heard anyone yelling out help. There were three guys down near the van just standing there,” she said.
“All they did was ask for a hose.
“I couldn’t believe they were just standing there. We were trying to take buckets down to the fence to make sure it didn’t spread.”
New England police Inspector Chris McKinnon said crews searched the blackened shell once it was safe and made the discovery.
“Unfortunately the body of a deceased was located in the caravan,” he said.
“Police are making inquiries to try and identify the deceased and also the cause of the fire.”
Ambulance paramedics were called to treat the 45-year-old man who suffered moderate burns to his face and hand.
He was taken to Tenterfield hospital, where he remained yesterday afternoon in a stable condition.
The news sent shockwaves through the Tenterfield community as locals tried to comprehend the backyard tragedy.
Fire and Rescue NSW Inspector Rod Chetwynd said local crews managed to stop the fire from spreading.
“They got the call and then were notified that one person was unaccounted for,” he said.
“Once the crews from Tenterfield arrived they managed to extinguish the fire very quickly and stop it from spreading.”
A crime scene was set up and detectives called to try and piece together what sparked the fatal blaze.
Police canvassed the area and have spoken to witnesses as they prepare a report for the coroner.
Yesterday afternoon, police confirmed a 35-year-old man was killed in the blaze, which wasn’t being treated as suspicious.