News

Unit block residents left homeless after explosion

Hamish Broome

UPDATE, October 11 11.53am: SPECIALIST fire investigators from Newcastle will assist local police forensic officers in establishing the cause of Friday night's deadly explosion in Ballina, according to Richmond LAC Inspector Matt Kehoe.

Ballina firefighters and police continued to work at the Owen St scene this morning as shocked neighbours looked on.

Inspector Kehoe confirmed a 47-year old male resident of the units was killed in the explosion.

It's understood the man lived in the lower middle unit of the five-unit block and police are reasonably confident that was where the explosion originated.

Two women were visibly distressed this morning after arriving at the gutted block of units with flowers.

Unable to access the site, they handed the flowers to a nearby police officer. 

Meanwhile, all the other residents of the block have been left homeless with the building condemned as structurally unsound.

One woman who "lost everything" was apparently taken away in an ambulance on Friday night in emotional distress.

Neighbours Steven Clifford and Sally Wooderson said the explosion shook their windows so loudly they thought someone was banging on them to get in.

Before rushing outside, they heard the block of units' windows "popping and cracking" as people gathered in the street.

"Power lines were just zapping and going everywhere," Ms Wooderson said.

"The street just flooded with people and then they (emergency services) blocked the street off."

A photo of the fire at Owen Street taken by Naomi Whitney.
A photo of the fire at Owen Street taken by Naomi Whitney. Naomi Whitney

Another neighbour, John Pearson who lived in nearby Burnet St was almost immediately on the scene and recalled picking up a garden hose in an attempt to extinguish the building flames.

"All the windows were blown up; the flames were already everywhere," he said.

"You couldn't get near it the heat was so intense."

Hamish Broome

UPDATE, October 11 7.26AM: SURVIVORS of an explosion and fire that killed a man at Ballina last night have been left homeless with police saying the building is now structurally unsound.

Residents of a block of units at Owen Street were last night evacuated across the road to the Seagulls rugby league oval while firefighters worked to extinguish the intense blaze that followed an explosion about 7.30pm.

After the fire a man was found dead near the back door of one of the units. Police this morning said the man was still yet to be formally identified.

Police have also said this morning the entire building is now structurally unsound and cannot be entered, leaving the residents of the 10 units homeless.

It is not clear at this stage what provisions have been made to help the residents in the short term.

Investigators are still trying to work out what caused the explosion, but police have said there appear to be no suspicious circumstances.

UPDATE: A MAN has died in a fire in a residential unit block at Ballina, police have confirmed.

Inspector Nicole Bruce said the fire was now largely out and the body of a man has been found in one of the units.

Nobody else was injured.

Insp Bruce said emergency services were called to the scene shortly after 7.30pm when a large explosion rocked the building. By the time they arrived the building was engulfed in "intense" flames.

Insp Bruce declined to comment on what may have caused the explosion or precisely where in the unit block it happened.

Power has been cut to the area, blacking out nearby homes and businesses.

One resident, Julian Treanor, who lives in one of the upper-storey units with his mother, said they were sitting in their home when the explosion happened.

"It shook the house, things were falling down," Mr Treanor said.

"It all happened extremely fast. Mum grabbed her bag and I ran back and grabbed my wallet. We ran outside and we could see flames and smoke pouring out."

The explosion and fire has drawn a huge response from local emergency services, with RFS brigades from around the area, as well as SES units, ambulances, and police.

The entire street has been blocked off by emergency personnel.

Insp Bruce said the unit block was being treated as a crime scene.

Firefighters outside the unit block at Owen Street.
Firefighters outside the unit block at Owen Street. Rebecca Lollback

Original report: FOUR residential units have been destroyed and a person is missing after an explosion at a building at Ballina.

The explosion is believed to have happened about 8pm, setting the Owen Street building ablaze.

Firefighters are on-site battling the blaze now. Police and ambulance officers are on the scene as well.

We have a reporter at the scene about to get a statement from police. We will update with more information as it comes to hand.

Topics:  fire, house fire




Rally 'terror' threat: Police investigate bridge fire

Images on social media of a home-made  time-delay device used to set a Kyogle bridge on fire during the Brakes Director Border Ranges Rally at the weekend

Police investigate after attempt to burn down bridge

Candidate's wife will do anything for love (and votes)

SARAH Karam has put together a video supporting her husband Ray Karam run for Ballina Mayor

WATCH: This rap video is one way to get noticed before an election

REVEALED: New takeaway shop for Goonellabah

Plans to change this vacant shop in Goonellabah Village into a takeaway shop.

It includes a sandwich bar, salad bar, coffee machine.

Latest deals and offers

Diva's sister on soliciting charge

FILE - In this May 14, 2016 file photo, Mariah Carey attends the 27th Annual GLAAD Media Awards, in New York. Carey will appear on the Oct. 5 episode of the Fox series, \"Empire,\" the network confirmed Monday at a TV critics bi-annual press tour. (Photo by Charles Sykes/Invision/AP, File)

Mariah Carey's sister has been arrested on charges of prostitution.

Tom Cruise private jets his gym kit around the world

Tom Cruise

Tom Cruise charters private to take his gym kit around the world

Movie behind Depp and Heard split to be released

Soon you'll be able to see the movie that ended the marriage

Bindi's boyfriend helps release huge croc

Chandler (far right) helped the jump team.

Chandler Powell helps catch Duncan the croc

Mick Jagger to pay £2.5m to the woman carrying his baby

Mick Jagger is reportedly paying millions to pregnant ballerina

Navy man Keller ready to marry a perfect stranger

Former Navy engineer Keller is a participant in season three of Married At First Sight.

Tattoos are just the surface of Married At First Sight groom.

REVEALED: Pat Rafter's $18m Coast house on the market

Check out the photos of the Coast's most expensive property for sale

The "correction we had to have" in Gladstone's rentals

UPWARD MARCH: The rental vacancy rate in Gladstone has improved for the first time in more than a year, providing a confidence boost in the market.

Vacancy rates improve with signs that things are getting betterF

ISLAND FOR SALE: Cheap Fraser Coast island drops price again

Suna Island in the Great Sandy Strait will be auctioned by Ray White Hervey Bay on Saturday morning.

This is the cheapest island you will find for sale in Australia

How a family home can fit on a 250sq m block

This is what you can build on 250m2.

Here's the floor plan of a home built on 250sq m

Investors eye Gladstone's $4m island with resort approval

UP FOR SALE: Turtle Island is on the market.

CHINESE and Sydney investors flag interest in Gladstone island.

Take a sneak peek at this $19m Whitsunday mansion

Mandalay House features a private helipad.

Mandalay is currently on the market with an asking price of $19m