Kangawalla fire claim's Wytaliba giants Vivian Chaplain and George Nole

OUT OF CONTROL: Reddestone Rural Fire Brigade's number 7 was one of only three trucks to make it into the Wytaliba community on Friday afternoon, before the bridge burned. Picture: Reddestone.

OUT OF CONTROL: Reddestone Rural Fire Brigade's number 7 was one of only three trucks to make it into the Wytaliba community on Friday afternoon, before the bridge burned. Picture: Reddestone.

Wytaliba lost two of its greatest citizens on Friday, with friends and family paying tribute to Vivian Chaplain and George Nole as giants of the community.

George Nole was discovered in a car at the Kangawalla fire ground. Former Wytaliba director Vivian Chaplain was mortally injured attempting to defend her Wytaliba home, and later died in hospital.

Philip Hine described his friend George Nole as a "reclusive nudist" and a man who moved to the isolated village "to be himself".

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The Greek-born 85-year-old was a genius electrician so good with circuits he had worked on NASA's Apollo program.

Later in life he moved to Australia after tossing a coin; if it had fallen the other way, he'd have lived in Zimbabwe. It was either A or Z.

Instead he settled down in Wytaliba in the 1980s, and was immediately welcomed into the community largely, in those days, made up of nudists.

RFS fought the blaze.

RFS fought the blaze.

He found what he was looking for in Wytaliba: "peace and quiet, lack of pollution, lack of noise, nature" and "to be himself", said Philip Hine.

But he didn't want his origins to be known, changing his last name to hide his Greek ancestry. He was aided by an odd mixed accent; Greek by way of South African and Australian.

"He didn't want to let on his origins, he was discriminated against," he said.

"He was called a wog."

But "he was the most honest man you could ever imagine; he didn't beat around the bush."

He was a man who knew what he liked: "he knew himself really, really well and could judge people's character really, really well."

Around 2014 he was diagnosed with leukemia, and had accepted his time was up.

"He'd outlived his time, he was already prepared to die before he got diagnosed with that he was a member of Exit International and was an extreme believer of Philip Nitschke."

His friend Phillip Hein said in George's last moments he would have been content.

"He got his wish, he wanted to die at home."

Vivian Chaplain, 69, will be survived by two children and six grandchildren.

Daughter-in-law, Chrystal Harwood, told the ABC the 69-year-old would be "greatly missed" by her two children and six grandchildren.

"She was a strong woman who died protecting the home and animals she loved," she said.

"The loss of her has devastated our family, there was nothing we could do.

"She was stuck and we couldn't get to her."

Phillip Hein remembered an occasion the village Director offered him a place to stay. She helping to bring order to the community founded on anarchy.

"You become a councillor, you become a leaning post, a talking post; you have to have thick skin."

"She was relentlessly wonderful. She had the ability to take control of a situation and deal with whatever came her way."

Two people died in Wytaliba in Friday's intense fires plus several more injured. Around 60 homes were destroyed, including Phillip Hein's. Another woman died near Taree.

At an evacuation centre in Glen Innes, many residents offered homeless Wytaliba residents clothing, food or a place to sleep.

Wytaliba resident David Pieters lost his home the 'tavern' in just minutes.

The former merchant navy sailor tried to defend his home, a three deck building that was one of the first started in the community. But he was overwhelmed by the intense blaze.

"The adrenaline kicks in. I've worked on a ship so I've gone through fire drills and all that sort of thing.

"So every ten seconds I made an assessment and at some point I decided this hopeless, I have to get out if I want to stay in one piece."