News

Gas explosion felt like an earthquake, says resident

LYN Treanor had been busy preparing dinner just seconds before the tremors of a gas explosion ripped through the floor of her Owen Street unit at about 7.30pm on Friday night.

Her son, Julian Treanor, 26, had just driven back from university on the Gold Coast and her 10-year-old grandson Callum Treanor was enjoying his visit.

"Suddenly there was this massive, unbelievable explosion," she said.

"It knocked me, and I managed to grab hold of the sink.

How to help

  • A Facebook page has been set up to help the residents of the Owen Street unit block. Residents are in need of things such as accommodation, money, and any good quality clothes, furniture, appliances, or utensils.
  • Ballina solicitor Clarissa Huegill has set up a trust fund for her staff member and "good mate" Susannah Poole, who lost everything in the fire. Anyone wanting to donate can do so at: The Susannah Poole Trust Fund, CH Law Trust Account, ANZ Bank Ballina, BSB: 012528, ACC: 495921345

"It kept reverberating, the energy from that was just so strong and immediately I thought earthquake, because I had lived in Japan."

"Already the heat was coming up… smoke was coming out," she said.

"I rang triple 0 and said 'I'm sure there's a man trapped downstairs', because I knew that's where it had happened."

The Treanors evacuated the unit, flames already visible from the staircase.

Half way down, Julian turned around and ran back into the unit to grab a shirt, phone and wallet.

The unit block at Owen Street, Ballina, in flames after Friday night's explosion.
The unit block at Owen Street, Ballina, in flames after Friday night's explosion. Naomi Whitney

"The 30 seconds to a minute I was back in the building… I could really feel the heat coming up from the floorboards and then by the time I got out the door it was pitch black smoke everywhere," he said.

Ms Treanor said several residents tried desperately to force open the door to 47-year-old Michael Karel's downstairs unit, the source of the explosion, but to no avail.

After the flames had been extinguished, firefighters found the body of Mr Karel near the back door of his downstairs unit.

The block of units has been gutted. The residents that escaped, escaped with their lives and little else.

Whether or not any of the objects can be salvaged is still unknown. The building is unstable, asbestos riddled, the contents most likely damaged by smoke and chemicals.

Topics:  ballina explosion, editors picks, house fire




Stay Connected

Update your news preferences and get the latest news delivered to your inbox.

'All I heard when my baby cried was ‘you’re a terrible mum'

APN Hey Mummy Feature for online - stock images of Katie Dykes. Photo Marc Stapelberg / The Northern Star

KATIE'S battle with PND is not unlike many mothers.

'I just thought all mums got no sleep'

MELTOPIA battled PND with all four of her children.

4 survival tips for mummas heading back to work

The few reminders every working mum needs to read.

Health and nutrition with kids - how do you balance it?

HOW important is health and nutrition in your household?

Smack or no smack - where do you stand?

THE debate is reignited - is smacking acceptable?

Technology and kids: Do you ever cut their wi-fi?

Check out our new video series featuring mums having a chat

Popular market stall opens store at Ballina shopping centre

New shop offers fresh and local fruit and vegetables.

Locals 'very happy' with the town's newest fruit and vegetable shop

OPINION: Who are these people? Senate parties explained

Thirty-eight parties are vying for your Senate vote. Be wise about where your preferences are going.

What you need to know about the Senate parties you've never heard of

Labor odds on to win Page

Labor candidate for Page, Janelle Saffin

Labor is set to win the seat of Page, according to the TAB

Latest deals and offers

PROPERTY BOOM: Coast prices set to skyrocket

Like other areas in south-east Queensland, the Sunshine Coast is at the start of the upturn on the property clock.

Values predicted to rise 25-33%

DIY: How to build a backyard fire pit

DIY stars and Weekend magazine columnists Ayden and Jess Hogan.

Would you build this for your backyard?