Fire engulfs the house in Frederick Street, Lismore Heights.
Fire engulfs the house in Frederick Street, Lismore Heights. Ron Cahill

Family escapes house fire

FIREFIGHTERS have praised a 26-year-old father’s quick thinking, which potentially saved himself and his 14-month-old daughter as an inferno engulfed their Lismore Heights home yesterday.

Station Officer Paul Martin said firefighters were called to the blaze in Frederick Street shortly after 11.30am believing the occupants were still inside.

“The father did a great job,” he said.

“There is a good lesson in this for all residents.

“Not only did they have functioning smoke alarms, but the father did all the right things by getting himself and the child out immediately and not going back in.

“It appears the fire started in the living room and spread quickly – they were very lucky to get out.”

Neighbours and friends rallied around the distraught couple and their child yesterday, having initially feared the worst.

One had frantically tried to warn the occupants at the height of the blaze, not realising they had already evacuated the house.

Once firefighters established everyone was out of the house they retreated as the structure began to collapse.

The father and daughter were treated for smoke inhalation by paramedics at the scene.

“It is crucial to evacuate quickly as carbon dioxide inhalation can disorientate you very quickly and you can easily forget where your own front door is,” Officer Martin said.

The father was palpably relieved, but still in shock yesterday as his partner rushed from work to be with her family.

He had initially attempted extinguish the fire himself, but quickly realised there was no chance as the blaze took hold.

“There was smoke and mess everywhere so we just got ourselves out,” he said.

“I’m not really up for talking, but I can say the smoke alarms saved us.

“My daughter’s okay. Luckily she doesn’t realise what has happened.”

The brick-veneer house was seriously damaged and half the roof had collapsed. Investigators estimate 60 per cent of it has been destroyed

Richmond Local Area Command Inspector Gary Cowen said Lismore detectives, crime scene officers and NSW Fire Brigade officers were investigating the cause of the fire and a report would be prepared for the Coroner.

The Coroner investigates all fires where damage is estimated to be more than $100,000.

It is the fourth serious house fire in the district in the past two weeks, following last week’s inferno that gutted a Girards Hill home and a massive inferno that destroyed two luxury homes at Byron Bay the week before.

There are no suspicious circumstances surrounding the Girards Hill blaze, but investigations are continuing into the Byron Bay fires.

With winter approaching, firefighters have issued a warning to householders to check all winter appliances, like heaters and electric blankets, for any faults.

They have also reminded residents to clean chimney flues, check lint filters in clothes dryers are clear and to keep a fire blanket in the kitchen. They also recommend residents develop a fire plan and practice it with all members of their household.

For full fire safety information check the NSW Fire Brigade’s website at nswfb.nsw.gov.au



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