UNDER INVESTIGATION: Lismore police are investigating the fire which severely damaged a residence in Dawson Street.
UNDER INVESTIGATION: Lismore police are investigating the fire which severely damaged a residence in Dawson Street. The Northern Star

Residents lucky to escape Lismore inferno

WHEN Tom Field heard his neighbour calling out, 'The house is on fire' early yesterday, he just grabbed his five-year-old daughter Sirena Young-Field and ran.

"I awoke about 1am and heard the guy upstairs yelling that the house next door was on fire," the 42-year-old full-time dad said.

"I looked out of the window and saw it was our house. I grabbed my jeans and shoes and my daughter and got out of there."

Mr Field, who rents the downstairs rear unit, said it was all so 'surreal' as he stood in the soaked ashes in front of the fire-damaged house at 130 Dawson Street in Lismore.

The street-side front unit was completely destroyed by the blaze.

Police yesterday said they were treating the fire as 'highly suspicious'.

Lismore Fire and Rescue Service station officer Roger Whight was off-duty at the time of the fire, but arrived to provide assistance just after 1.30am.

"When we arrived, the top part of the house was fully alight," Mr Whight said.

"We managed to save 90 per cent of the house next door and we also saved the business on the other side.

"Saving the adjacent houses was a priority and we had a team at each side of the house using hoses to stop the flames from spreading.

"There is substantial smoke and water damage to the other units."

Mr Whight praised the efforts of both the Lismore and Goonellabah firefighters for their efforts in containing the fire.

"It was 'all hands on deck'," he said.

"None of the occupants were injured in the fire, but one of our firefighters dislocated his shoulder when he fell through the floor.

"They were trying to get into the difficult hot spots inside the house, and they were trying to move a bit of the iron roof that had collapsed, when he fell.

"He'll be all right. He's pretty tough."

Mr Field was taking the early morning events in his stride yesterday.

"I was standing here going through in my head all the things that I've lost, but then I look at my daughter and I'm so happy we're all right," he said.

His daughter's washing was still on the line at the back of the house, but it held the stench of smoke.

"Everything smells like smoke," he said.

He was, however, able to retrieve his bike from the side of the house.

"I'm off to the Department of Housing today to see what my options are," he said.

How the fire started is not known, but detectives are treating the incident as highly suspicious. Police will interview the occupants of the front unit as part of their investigation.

Lismore detectives are seeking information or witnesses to the fire. Call 6626 0599 or Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.


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