BEACH BLAZE LEAVES HOUSE GUTTED
By CRAIG McTEAR
NUMBER Two Wattle Place at Sandy Beach used to be a nice place to live.
But that happy picture was changed in a matter of minutes yesterday afternoon by a ferocious fire which consumed a timber and iron A-frame house.
The frame and the roof are now all that remain of the $200,000 home.
"We're very lucky it didn't collapse," Woolgoolga Fire Station commander Ray Webb said.
Thick plumes of black smoke could be seen for many kilometres at the height of the emergency.
Fire crews were scrambled at 12.47pm and responded en masse ? five vehicles and 21 personnel in total from Woolgoolga Fire Station and the Sandy Beach, Moonee and Woolgoolga rural brigades.
Four officers had to use breathing apparatus, while ambulance officers treated one firefighter at the scene for smoke inhalation.
Coffs Harbour Fire Station personnel also arrived with extra breathing apparatus cylinders.
Mr Webb said no-one was home at the time of the fire.
Neighbours battled the flames with garden hoses which they also used to protect their own properties.
"One of the neighbours started to hose down the front veranda of the house on fire, but had to pull back because of the heat and to protect his own home," Mr Webb said.
"Trees and the front fence of the property caught alight, as well as a tree in a neighbouring yard at the rear.
"The flames were around five metres above the building. With the assistance of the Rural Fire Service (RFS), we were able to protect the two houses either side, and attack the fire itself.
"One of those houses came very close to catching on fire, it was that intense.
"The assistance of the RFS made a big difference."
Police investigating the cause of the fire are not expected to be able to enter what is left of the dwelling until today.