Kyogle man Jason Newman was one of the first to arrive at the burning house, but could only help protect a neighbouring residence as flames quickly engulfed the old weatherboard building.
Kyogle man Jason Newman was one of the first to arrive at the burning house, but could only help protect a neighbouring residence as flames quickly engulfed the old weatherboard building. Cathy Adams

Fiery start to new year

WHEN Jason Newman heard a nearby house was ablaze in Kyogle on New Year’s Eve, fearing it was his grandmother’s place he threw on his shoes and ran towards the smoke.

It wasn’t his grandmother’s, but when he arrived at the burning home, on the corner of Anzac Parade and Norton Street, it was already engulfed in flames.

“When I first got there the centre of the house was on fire and a couple of minutes later the whole house was ablaze,” he said. “Within five to 10 minutes there was nothing anyone could do.”

With the old weatherboard rental house well and truly alight, neighbours turned their attention to preventing the fire spreading, focusing their efforts on a gas tank at the rear of the house.

“We just had the hoses trying to keep the gas tank cooled down,” Mr Newman said. “What worried us most was the gas tank blowing up, because if it went up we all would have been in trouble.”

Mr Newman said he and three others battled the blaze until firefighters arrived, also keeping the house next door wet to stop the fire taking another home.

“We were 10 metres from the flames, but you could still feel the intense heat on your face. When I came home, I could still feel the heat on my face,” he said.

“The house was an inferno, so we were soaking the trees and wetting the side of the place next door. We just soaked everything to save it.”

Lismore Fire Brigade Inspector Chris Bishop said Kyogle firefighters attended the blaze at 8.55pm, assisted by Casino brigade members.

“It was a very intense fire, and between the two crews it took about one and a half hours to put it out,” he said.

Insp Bishop said the house was unoccupied at the time.

Robert Henry, who owns the house next door, said they could feel the heat of the fire inside their home.

“It was pretty scary, and the house was well alight before the fire brigade arrived,” he said.

“Some young fellas from the corner had both our hoses on it, and I reckon the fire brigade did a pretty good job. If it had got away our house would have gone too.”

Another neighbour, Darren Nelson, said the fire had only just started when he ran down the street from a friend’s place thinking it was his house ablaze.

“It was an old house so it went up quickly, and after five to 10 minutes the roof had already collapsed,” he said.

Lismore police Inspector Brett Marshall said the fire was still being investigated by police.

“At this stage investigations into the matter are ongoing, and there is nothing to indicate whether it was a deliberately-lit fire,” he said.

Insp Marshall encouraged witnesses to contact Lismore police on 6626 0599.



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