Fire crews prevented the Coffs Hotel burning down early yesterday, but the blaze has caused an estimated $1m worth of damage to
Fire crews prevented the Coffs Hotel burning down early yesterday, but the blaze has caused an estimated $1m worth of damage to

Helper raised the alarm



STUART Thomas, 43, lives upstairs at the Coffs Hotel and is one of the merry band of pub helpers.

He awoke at 4am yesterday to clean downstairs, and distinctly remembers a 'wet, woollen, smouldering smell'.

Stuart vacuumed the back bar at 5am and alarms sounded shortly after. He could see smoke and flames coming from the office.

"I went upstairs and belted on room doors," Stuart said.

Geoff Walter, 38, heard banging on doors and someone saying 'There's smoke, everyone wake up'.

"I opened my door and the smoke came straight in and my fire alarm went off," he said.

"I went down on my knees, and everyone was gathered in the corridor.

"The wind was blowing from the north-west and was pushing smoke right through the place.

"I came through the balcony door and saw Ben (Kaika). I told him to get down."

The pair made it to the balcony on the West High Street side.

Ben handed down his caged lorikeet to another resident on the footpath while they waited for firefighters, who'd just arrived, to place a ladder.

"It took my breath away. I've never been involved in anything like this in my life," Geoff said.

"You hear about it on the news.

"I'm just glad to see everyone was out."



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