The NSW Bushfires Coronial Inquiry has heard details surrounding the death of NSW North Coast man Barry Parsons, who died attempting to flee the Carrai East Bushfire in 2019.
The Carrai East fire burnt through a total of 238,601 hectares and damaged or destroyed at least 90 homes and a further 250 outbuildings, the inquiry heard earlier this week.
The inquest into the Carrai East fire began on Monday. The court heard the fire started around October 16, 2019, and was likely caused by a lightning strike.
On Thursday (March 17) a formal inquest was opened into the death of Barry Parsons, of Willawarrin, near Kempsey.
Mr Parsons was described by those who knew him as a quiet and friendly man. He had spent the majority of his life in Western Australia before settling down at his home on Kyuna Track, just outside Willawarrin, in 2018.
On November 8, 2019 the Carrai East fire picked up speed in hot and dry conditions and was burning in the direction of Willawarrin.
The court heard earlier in the week from resident David Duff who described the conditions on November 8 as a "fire storm".
"Everything was on fire at once," he told the court.
Mr Parsons' neighbour, Luke Harman, was one of the last people to see him alive on the afternoon of November 8, 2019.
"At the time (of the fire) I lived on the corner of Armidale Road and Kyuna Track," he told the court.
Mr Harman also spoke of how Mr Parsons would need to open a gate near his home to reach his own property further down Kyuna Track.
He mentioned he saw Mr Parsons at around 4pm on November 8 exiting his vehicle to open the gate to gain access to Armidale Road, which was in the direction of the evacuation point at Willawarrin Hall.
Mr Harman didn't see Mr Parsons, or his car, after this.
"There was a tunnel of flames when we evacuated," he said.
The court heard Mr Parsons had likely attempted to flee the fire in his car.
The 58-year-old had limited contact with neighbours and friends on November 8.
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Counsel assisting Adam Casselden SC told the inquiry Mr Parsons' burnt-out vehicle was found in the coming days and his body was discovered by a neighbour in burnt bushland around 300 metres from his vehicle on November 13, 2019.
The area where Mr Parsons' car and body were discovered was only accessible by 4WD vehicles and was in the opposite direction of the evacuation centre. It was also located on a fire trail that leads towards the Macleay River.
The court also heard that due to ash and smoke, it was likely difficult to navigate the area due to poor visibility.
Counsel assisting Mr Casselden SC said Mr Parsons' autopsy revealed he suffered from thermal injuries, although the precise cause of death is unable to be ascertained.
The court heard Mr Parsons likely died in the late afternoon to early evening of November 8, 2019 while attempting to flee the fire in his car and subsequently on foot.
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