Erin Young is comforted by his friend Don Moss after his mother’s house burnt down, suspected of being struck by lightning during Tuesday night’s storm.
Erin Young is comforted by his friend Don Moss after his mother’s house burnt down, suspected of being struck by lightning during Tuesday night’s storm. DAVID NIELSEN

Lightning strike razes home

WHEN Lynda Mallaby returns next week from the first proper holiday of her life, it will be to the charred remains of a home she spent years building.

Ms Mallaby’s oriental-style house high in the hills behind The Channon was razed to the ground on Tuesday night after a suspected cruel lightning strike during a thunderstorm that rattled the region.

Family and friends yesterday picked through the still-smouldering debris to salvage any valuables that hadn’t been completely destroyed.

Ms Mallaby’s son, Erin Young, saw the flames at around 8pm from his home down the hill and tried to put them out using an esky as a bucket.

“I saw the fire from down at our place and I ran up. It was underneath the deck and I couldn’t get to it,” he said.

“It took about five minutes from the point where it was saveable to the point where there was no hope.

“Then 20 minutes for it (the house) to collapse.”

The Rural Fire Service (RFS) was called from The Channon and Dunoon and it took firefighters almost 30 minutes to subdue the blaze – but it was too late by then.

“I think it’s more than just a house for mum,” Mr Young said.

“All the local tradesmen have put their hearts into it too.”

Neighbour and friend Tanya Glue said the whole sky lit up when the lightning struck.

“The whole sky went blue and I heard this bang. I said: ‘That was way too close’. Then we heard all the sirens.”

Ms Mallaby’s partner Igor von Sabler, who stayed at the house a few nights a week, said the family wouldn’t tell her if she called from Thailand so as not to ruin the rest of her hard-earned holiday.

“I’m not going to tell her if she calls. She’s got 10 days left of her holiday,” he said.

Ms Mallaby’s brother, John Mallaby, said the community would throw its support behind his sister.

“Lynda’s been a stalwart in the community,” he said. “She’s been here 25 years. She’ll get a lot of support.”

Ms Mallaby, a carer for people with Down syndrome, was not insured.

The RFS said the house on Wallace Road was already well alight by the time firefighters arrived and, while lightning was not being ruled out as a cause, it would still be investigated.

“We got the call about 20 past eight,” RFS community safety officer for the Northern Rivers Superintendent Boyd Townsend said.

“When they arrived the house was already involved with fire,” he said.



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