VERY LUCKY: Tony Stillone from Rainbow Wholefoods in North Lismore with the burnt out remains from an exhaust fan.
VERY LUCKY: Tony Stillone from Rainbow Wholefoods in North Lismore with the burnt out remains from an exhaust fan. Cathy Adams

Fault in fan sparks fire, nearly destroys Lismore business

A SMALL plastic ceiling fan almost ended a North Lismore businesses after it caught alight and set fire to the electrical components of a nearby refrigerator.

Rainbow Wholefoods owner Tony Stillone said it was extremely lucky the fire didn't spread to the building's timber roof.

"The shop would have gone down really bad," he said. "It is an old timber building.

"We'd have been about 10 people out of work, and our livelihood would have burnt down.

"There's a lot of stock in the shop. I don't know how we would have coped, but I try not to think about that part."

Mr Stillone, who's had the business for almost 15 years, said a neighbour who heard the fire alarm go off phoned police and a staff member on Saturday morning.

He said one of the four plastic fans installed in the roof above the fridges to suck out hot air overheated and melted.

"The fan melted out, the plastic caught alight, and when it dropped on the fridge it caught alight to all the electrical wires on top of the fridge," he said.

"The fire basically burnt the top panel of the roof but it didn't catch alight luckily or it would have caught alight onto the wooden building.

"It could be a bit of a dust build up in the heat, or there was some sort of burnout in the motor.

"We've been here nearly 15 years and we've never had an issue like that."

Mr Stillone said he would be replacing the fans and hooking up the fire alarm system to notify the fire brigade or a security company in the event of fire.

He said he hoped his experience would serve as a wake-up call for other businesses to check their portable and exhaust fans.

"It could have been heaps worse, all because of a little fan that's worth about $25," he said.

"It's a message for other retailers just to be aware."



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