Dog may have saved the day
THE barking of their beloved chihuahua may have saved the lives of two occupants of a Wardell house destroyed by fire yesterday afternoon.
Emergency services were called to the inferno about noon but the fire quickly consumed the single-storey brick home within minutes of breaking out.
Alerted to barking
Richmond Local Area Command Inspector Doug Conners said the two people inside were alerted to the fire by the barking of their dog.
Thankfully, no-one was hurt in the blaze, which is believed to have started in the laundry of the home in Thurgates Lane, off Wardell Rd.
The chihuahua also managed to escape, but has since gone missing and its owner has appealed to the public for information should they see the dog.
Neighbour saw smoke
Neighbour Alan Tillsley was on his way home from Ballina when he saw smoke from the fire.
"I got home and heard the fire engine, went outside the house, and the smoke that was white had turned to black. I thought 'that's serious' and came up and had a look," he said. "By that time there was already one fire engine and police and then it just snowballed from there.
"I asked somebody and they said they didn't think there was anybody in the house. When the ambulance arrived it went down and came straight back out again."
The fire's cause is still unknown, and with the smoking remains still being checked by firefighters yesterday afternoon investigators were unable to enter the property.
Rural Fire Service Far North Coast Inspector Bob Wilcox said three units from Wardell and Alstonville were called to the scene about 12.30pm alongside a Fire and Rescue NSW tanker.
Insp Wilcox said yesterday the house was "90% burnt out" and, given the extent of damage, it might be difficult to pinpoint the cause.
"By tomorrow (Friday) we should have some idea, (but) it depends what we (are able to) see when we get there," he said.
Fire started in laundry
Given early suggestions the fire started in the laundry, Insp Wilcox said people should take care to regularly clean out lint from driers and avoid storing goods on or near these fire-prone appliances.
Neighbours and passers-by have been asked to keep a lookout for the owner's reddish-brown chihuahua, which answers to its name Punto, is microchipped and wearing a dog tag. Phone 6683 4887 if seen.