Staff in shock

A sniffer dog at work.
A sniffer dog at work.

SHARYN Flick has had better days.The 43 year old Coffs Hotel office assistant was in the manager's residence with her three children Clayton, 17, Tayla, 14, and Riley, 5 when fire broke out yesterday.

Tayla's friend Kareena Dalby, 15, who'd slept over, and family pooch, Wilbur, were there too.

"The main alarm in the hallways went off. I thought it was a false alarm. I opened the door to go downstairs to turn it off and there was smoke all in the hallway," Sharyn said.

"I woke the kids up. The smoke was coming through our front door.

"We were helped as we climbed through my bedroom window onto the roof and we got down the back steps.

"What I was wor- ried about was we had a drill one time and only two people came out. Everyone stayed in bed. I was worried everyone would think it was a drill.

"I'm scared to go up and see it (her room). There's going to be smoke."

Chris Firth, 22, has been a barman there for five years and his state was one of disbelief yesterday.

"I got a phone call at 6am. I was speechless and knew I had to get down here to make sure the guys upstairs were okay," Chris said.

"It's my home away from home."

Daniel Way, 27, heard one alarm, followed by another.

"I put my clothes on and I came out the door. I thought it was a false alarm, but then I said to myself 'It's real, it's real'. I went outside the door and smoke was coming up the stairs. I hit the panic button."

He raced down the back stairs and saw the flames.

The Sydney-based Gleeson family, which also owns Urunga's Ocean View Hotel, built the Coffs Hotel in 1937.

Actor Russell Crowe, who has close ties to the Coffs Hotel, was told about the fire by a friend who drove past the scene.

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