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Ballina explosion survivor: "Everything I owned is gone"

Susannah Poole standing in front of her house which was burned in a fire following an explosion in Ballina on Friday night.
Susannah Poole standing in front of her house which was burned in a fire following an explosion in Ballina on Friday night. Nolan Verheij-Full

SUSANNAH Poole was having a quiet Friday night at home when the shock explosion in her neighbour's unit turned her world upside down.

Within a few minutes of the blaze taking hold, she had lost everything bar the clothes on her back.

Ms Poole's second-floor unit was one of three units in the five-unit block to be completely gutted by the fire.

GAS BOTTLE TO BLAME FOR FATAL EXPLOSION AND FIRE

"I don't even have any underwear. I have nothing; everything I owned was in that place," Ms Poole said.

"Just to have your whole life wiped out in one night where you don't own a single thing ... I should be grateful that I'm alive; but I am in shock."

And it happened so quickly.

My parents are both deceased, and I had items that they'd given me and that hurts more than anything

- Susannah Poole

"I was just sitting on the lounge watching TV ... then the biggest explosion you've ever heard," Ms Poole said.

"The whole building shook and there was a massive bang ... I looked out the front and there was orange flames ... I looked down and all the windows had exploded, there was glass everywhere and smoke was starting to bellow out.

The block of units at 38 Owen St, Ballina destroyed in Friday night's explosion.
The block of units at 38 Owen St, Ballina destroyed in Friday night's explosion.

"This was about 10 seconds after the explosion ... I just panicked and ran down the stairs.

"I didn't even have time to get my bag, I had to leave."

Cutting her feet on broken glass on the way down was the least of Ms Poole's concerns.

The evacuees quickly realised one resident was still in his flat and efforts were made by one to get into the unit, but it was already engulfed in flames.

"I just had a singlet and a skirt on; I knew I couldn't go back up the steps," she said.

"I ran down into Carrington Lane and shouted 'can someone please call triple-0."

"It was not going to be saved; that was evident in about three minutes."

Susannah Poole is devastated she lost everything when her house burned down in Ballina on Friday night.
Susannah Poole is devastated she lost everything when her house burned down in Ballina on Friday night. Nolan Verheij-Full

Ms Poole later admitted herself to hospital but was, except for her feet, uninjured. But the fire destroyed her most valued possessions.

"My parents are both deceased, and I had items that they'd given me and that hurts more than anything," she said

"Everything that you've gathered over the years, everything sentimental ... imagine it no longer exists."

But Ms Poole said she was incredibly grateful for the circle of friends who had come to her aid.

One friend had put her up on Friday night while another had offered a caravan for temporary accommodation.

"When things like this happen you realise what you do have," she said of the support.

Close friend Sarah Healy said a fundraiser to help Ms Poole would be set up and at least five donation tins would be put out at local pubs.

Topics:  ballina explosion editors picks fire house fire



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