Fire ruins more than a building
NSW Fire and Rescue officers and Rural Fire Service volunteers have been praised for containing a fire which destroyed a furniture and homewares store in Kyogle on Wednesday night and which threatened adjacent buildings.
Shortly before 9pm on Wednesday, a fire broke out at the MacDade and Family store on the eastern side of Summerland Way, engulfing the two-story building.
The Kyogle Fire and Rescue crew responded within minutes of receiving a report of the blaze, but according to Captain Robert Crawford the focus of the fire-fighting effort was on preventing the spread of the fire to nearby timber houses, businesses and a dental surgery.
"We got called at 8.58pm and we were there within a couple of minutes but it was well alight when we got there," Capt Crawford said.
"We didn't worry about (the MacDade) building whatsoever, we just tried to save the buildings on either side."
Ten Fire and Rescue officers from Kyogle, four from Casino and six from Lismore all attended the fire where they were supported by volunteers from the Kyogle and Wiangaree Rural Fire Services.
Concerned the front facade and north and south walls of the building would collapse, police with the assistance of Kyogle State Emergency Service volunteers established an exclusion zone and pushed onlookers back about 100m from the scene at about 9.20pm.
Dale Gibson lives in a timber house behind the MacDade store and was preparing for bed when she heard a fire alarm from the building shortly before 9pm and telephoned 000.
Ms Gibson said she initially saw a small amount of smoke and an orange glow coming from the building but that the fire took off quickly.
"It took over really quickly and it was so hot," Ms Gibson said.
"I was standing in the middle of the lounge room talking to 000 and I could feel the heat and in what seemed seconds the whole building was gone."
Lincoln Nettleton lives a couple of doors up from Ms Gibson and was one of the first to respond to the fire along with other neighbours who used garden hoses in an attempt to stop the fire spreading.
"It was pretty clear that the building was unsalvageable," Mr Nettleton said.
"It was on fire, a lot beyond the help of a garden hose, so we just concentrated on wetting down the building and trying to keep the intensity of the fire down a bit and any embers that came across, just trying to put those out.
"Between the buildings there is only about two foot (60cm) of space and the heat was that intense it was like sunburn on your face," he said.
Kyogle's Anglican minister Reverend Jim Nightingale was at the scene shortly after the fire began and said the damage it caused could have been a lot worse were it not for the efforts of fire-fighters.
"We need to pay tribute to the firies who contained it and did a great job with limited resources," Rev Nightingale said.
"It is a tragedy for the town and certainly for the MacDade family and our thoughts and prayers as a community are with the MacDade family at the moment."
According to Acting Inspector Jackie Lilley of the Richmond Local Area Command, no one was injured in the fire and the cause was not yet known but Police and NSW Fire and Rescue forensic investigations are continuing.
Traffic detours are in place and the Summerland Way at Kyogle is expected to remain closed at least until tomorrow.
It is understood that a crew may demolish the remaining shell of the MacDade building today.