Explosion sparks blaze
By HANNAH ROSS
AN EXPLOSION sounding as loud as fireworks is believed to be the cause of a fire that took hold of a home in Lismore Heights last night.
Fire brigades were called to the Donnans Road house at 6.50pm.
Goonellabah unit 316 was first on the scene.
Even though it took the crew only three minutes to%arrive the house was already well ablaze.
Captain Konrad Sawczynski said the occupant of the house had managed to get himself out.
An immediate search of the premises found no one else inside.
A hazmat team was called in to assist with breathing apparatus for the fire crews and monitoring of any gas or other toxic leaks.
A neighbour said she called the fire brigade after she heard two very loud bangs coming from beneath the raised house.
She said flames began to lick out from the underside of the building almost immediately after the explosions.
The neighbour had been having dinner with her young family, including her three-week-old baby, when the fire started. She said she was forced to get them all outside for fear the fire would spread to her home.
She said her neighbour was unhurt but was too shaken to speak to The Northern Star. She said his main concern as the fire took hold was for the safety of his dog, which had bolted at the sound of the explosions.
However, by 8pm the dog was back safe and sound with his owner.
The fire had charred the underside of the two-storey house and licked up to the rafters on the front veranda.
Captain Sawczynski said it was too early to assess the% level of structural damage to the home.
He said it would probably be a matter for the owner to decide whether he would rebuild the house or knock it down. He said fire crews managed to extinguish the bulk of the flames within the space of 10 minutes.
The roadway outside the house was closed to traffic by fire trucks, police cars and ambulances attending the scene.
The flashing of their collective lights could be seen from the Bruxner Highway and surrounding areas, attracting a gaggle of onlookers.
Captain Sawczynski said he could not comment on the possible nature of the explosions and investigations by police and NSW Fire Brigades would be ongoing.
He said the occupant did the right thing by leaving the building immediately.
NSW Fire Brigades advise anyone caught in a house fire to: n Stay low to avoid rising heat and to minimise smoke inhalation.
n Doors and windows should remain closed to minimise air fanning the flames.
n Ensure all occupants leave the house through the nearest exit.
n Call 000 for assistance.