Beloved pet dog went missing in Wardell fire
UPDATE, 5pm: The owner of a pet chihuahua which went missing during the blaze that destroyed a home in Wardell this afternoon has appealed for help in finding the beloved pet.
Named Punto, the dog is a reddish brown colour, is tagged and microchipped. Anyone who sees the dog is asked report the sighting to police.
The owner, an elderly lady, was clearly distressed over the loss of the home. Thankfully no one was hurt.
Rural Fire Service firefighters were at the scene for more than two hours this afternoon cooling the smoking embers of the fire.
A full investigation of the fire's cause is expected to take place tomorrow, although it is believed at this stage to have started in the laundry.
Rural fire Service Far North Coast Inspector Bob Wilcox said three RFS units from Wardell and Alstonville were called to the scene at about 12.30pm alongside a Fire and Rescue NSW tanker.
Inspector Wilcox said yesterday the home was "90% burnt out" and given the extent of damage it might be difficult to pinpoint the cause.
"By tomorrow we should have some idea, (but) it depends what we (are able to) see when we get there," he said.
Neighbour Alan Tillsley said was on his way home from Ballina when he saw the smoke.
"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.
"By that time there was already one fire engine down and police were there and then it just snowballed from there."
UPDATE, 1.30pm: Fire has completely destroyed a home on Thurgates Lane, off Wardell Rd, at Wardell.
Richmond Local Area Command Inspector Doug Conners said the blaze started in the laundry and quickly spread to the rest of the single storey brick house.
He said the two female occupants were alerted to the fire by their dogs barking.
It is understood one of the pet dogs, a chihuahua, is still unaccounted for.
NSW Fire and Rescue and the Rural Fire Service are still at the scene battling the blaze.
ORIGINAL STORY: EMERGENCY services are on the scene of a house fire at Wardell.
A Newcastle Fire Communications spokesman confirmed Fire and Rescue NSW Alstonville brigade were called to a house fire on Thurgates Lane, off Wardell Rd, about 12:40pm.
Police, paramedics and Rural Fire Service tankers have also responded.
When the Wardell Rural Fire Service tanker arrived they found the house engulfed in flames.
The occupants of the house were told to flee the structure by Fire and Rescue NSW.
More details to come.