NSW Rural Fire Brigades volunteer Rita Pomroy sprays water on the smouldering remains of the cottage.
NSW Rural Fire Brigades volunteer Rita Pomroy sprays water on the smouldering remains of the cottage. David Nielsen

Fire destroys home in minutes

KYOGLE spray painter Andrew Williams was working late in the shed of his rented Roseberry house shortly after 10pm when the power died.

Unsure what had happened he emerged to find his home of six years, with all his worldly possessions, engulfed in flames.

Mr Williams alerted his neighbours, but by then it was too late.

Within minutes the fire in the 100-year-old timber cottage was out of control.

The best he and his neighbour Tubby McLean could do was keep the fire from spreading to Mr McLean’s house.

“A little after 10pm I awoke to all this banging on the doors and windows and Andrew yelling ‘help, help’,” Mr McLean said.

“We were in bed and I thought he was being attacked he was so frantic.

“I ran out and there was this huge orange glow. The house was well alight by then. It was an old house, as dry as kindling, and it just went up like that.

“I grabbed the hose, but it was just a trickle in the face of that blaze.

“By then Andrew was more worried about my house that his own.

“All the neighbours came down and pitched in.

“All we could do was hose down my house and the fence to protect it from the heat.”

The fire started in the kitchen of Mr Williams’ house, and spread quickly.

Mr McLean said the roof started collapsing within 15 minutes and by the time three fire crews arrived the best they could do was stand back and stop it from spreading.

“They wouldn’t have saved it. It was pretty ferocious. Look at the singeing of the trees and the grass across the road,” Mr McLean said.

“It is an awful thing to happen to someone just before Christmas. He’s a bloody good neighbour. He was always there if anyone needed help, but we couldn’t help him this time.

“He’s lost everything poor bugger, including a lot of spray-painting gear.

“We put him up for the night and he woke up in tears this morning.

“He is such a bloody good-hearted guy I wish we could do more. He’s done a lot for us over the years.”

When Mr Williams’ landlord Dean Clark heard about the fire he headed straight over. He was worried about Mr Williams and was hoping the house might be salvageable.

“I got there and realised there was nothing left,” Mr Clark said.

“It’s probably under-insured, but we’ll sort it out.

“I’m just happy Andrew wasn’t in the house at the time. He’s a great bloke. If he’s got two bob he’ll give you three. He would drop anything to help out a mate.

“We’ve sorted him out with accommodation for now.

“He’s had a rough year, losing his younger brother to cancer 12 months ago, and now this.”



Can you afford to rent on the Northern Rivers?

premium_icon Can you afford to rent on the Northern Rivers?

Renting in some Northern Rivers towns now unaffordable

Priest had sexual 'predilection' for boys, court told

premium_icon Priest had sexual 'predilection' for boys, court told

Catholic priest has denied all charges

Preschoolers sing for rain to come

premium_icon Preschoolers sing for rain to come

Bentley preschoolers sing their very own rain song.

Local Partners