Gavin hailed as a hero in fire drama
By Jamie Brown
LUCKILY Gavin Bright slept lightly in the early hours of last Friday at South Lismore.
He woke to the piercing sound of a smoke alarm, but for the other six people in their Newbridge Street duplex that noise was not nearly enough to wake them.
Gavin jumped out of bed and saw the eerie orange glow of a fire reflected off the house next door, quickly realising the source was under the house, directly under his bedroom.
As the weatherboard building began to blaze, Gavin ran from room to room waking his housemates.
All of them were sound asleep.
“If it wasn’t for Gavin we would have all died in that fire,” wept Jacqueline Carey, who with her daughter Aleasha escaped with the clothing on their backs.
Their kitten Marbles wasn’t so fortunate, perishing in the ball of flame that engulfed the old home.
Gavin rounded up his groggy housemates and herded them to the front door, but they froze at the frightening sight of red, acrid smoke.
With the blaze now raging through the centre of the house, he pushed them through the smoke barrier and outside, grabbing the hands-free phone as they escaped.
He made a quick call to 000 before the base set melted, then dashed to the neighbouring duplex and began shouting to wake people up.
A visiting friend was snoring on the floor and as Gavin slapped the man his pet fox terrier lunged at Gavin’s arm, gripping the bare flesh in its teeth. Gavin battled on, blocking the dog, waking the neighbours and all the while keeping an ear on the crackling and popping immediately next door.
“There was a ball of fire rolling through the hallway next door,” he recalled. “There were fish tanks popping. Outside power lines were coming down and sparks were everywhere. The fire was so fast. We are all very lucky to be alive.”
Now the burnt-out residents have nothing, except a cat named Ziggy, and little future.
Jacqueline and Aleasha are being housed at a men’s hostel in Union Street and their support officer from Community Connections, Ellie Wilson, says their predicament illustrates the dire need for affordable housing in Lismore.