Matthew Hanlon, of Lismore, was Pokemon Go when he saw the fire that engulfed play equipment at Heritage Park. Photo Marc Stapelberg / The Northern Star
Matthew Hanlon, of Lismore, was Pokemon Go when he saw the fire that engulfed play equipment at Heritage Park. Photo Marc Stapelberg / The Northern Star Marc Stapelberg

WATCH: Pokemon Go players' quick response to park fire

UPDATE 1.15pm: IF IT wasn't for the scores of Pokemon Go enthusiasts out last night at the popular 'Pokestops' near Lismore City Hall, the suspicious fire which engulfed Lismore's favourite playground on Thursday night could have been much worse.

20-year-old Matthew Hanlon was third on the scene at the Heritage Park fire just after Fire and Rescue NSW were called at 8.48pm.

Within five minutes at least 50 Pokemon players were at the scene.

The park is in the vicinity of three converging Pokestops: The Cedar Log, Lismore City Hall and Northern Rivers Community Gateway centre.

The former Kadina High student from South Lismore believes it was "more than likely" the first alert to emergency services came from a nearby Pokemon Go player.

Mr Hanlon, who works at the Lismore City Beach store, happened to be driving around with his girlfriend on a Pokemon catching mission when he saw the large flames from Molesworth Street.

"The flames were high. Even at a distance you could feel the heat and smell the burning plastic," he said.

Mr Hanlon, a former Rural Fire Service volunteer, said he saw four clear fuel lines running through the playground.

"As ex-RFS, I know what an intentional fire looks like. There were fuel lines running down the playground and one running down the back. It looks like they (the arsonist) would have escaped down the side (gate) near the skate park," he said.

Mr Hanlon said he had fond childhood memories of using the tube and timber slides at Heritage Park which were destroyed by last night's suspicious fire.

"I always thought, if I have kids I would take them to those same slides. It's a significant park for Lismore. It's emotional to see them gone," he said.

The Pokemon scene in Lismore

"I could not say anything other than positive things about the Pokemon Go scene in Lismore," Mr Hanlon said.

"Last week I walked down the street and no one would have talked to me, this week since Pokemon Go, I've had been stopped at least a dozen times by people asking me about the game," he said.

"Pokemon Go has brought are a lot of people together in Lismore.

"We have it lucky for a country town. You can walk down the main street catching Pokemon all night and all day. It's a very positive thing. It gets the younger generation out of the house and into the streets. It gets them a bit wild."

Heritage Park was open to the public by Friday morning for school holiday visitors. The burnt playground area was cordoned off.

 

The damage at Heritage Park Lismore following last night's fire.
The damage at Heritage Park Lismore following last night's fire. Cathy Adams

UPDATE 9.30am: IT WAS thanks to local Pokemon Go players that last night's fire at Heritage Park was extinguished so quickly.

Local Pokemon Go enthusiast Matthew Hanlon has confirmed that last night's suspicious fire at Heritage Park was only put out so swiftly by fire crews because of the alerts of Pokemon Go players nearby.

The cedar log near City is a Pokemon Go hotspot and Mr Hanlon said it was these evening players who alerted authorities to the fire.

Over on The Northern Star's Facebook page, readers expressed their shock at the news of the fire, which is believed to be suspicious.

Sharon Pratten said: "Who does stuff like this........seriously......what is the mindset of these people?"

Lena LaKitti said: "What?! My son and I go to Heritage Park every morning this is so sad. Bloody jerks. I wonder how much of the park was damaged?"

Naomi Mishell said: "That really sux. We were only just there last Sunday, the kids love those slides."

Dani McCann said: "Such a stupid waste. My kids love Heritage Park."

 

FRIDAY 6.25am: A FIRE has destroyed playground equipment at Lismore's Heritage Park overnight.

A spokesperson from Fire and Rescue NSW confirmed they had been called to the park, on Molesworth Street at 8.48pm to reports of a fire.

A crew from Lismore arrived on scene to find the playground equipment well alight.

They extinguished the fire and notified police.

The spokesperson said the fire was "rather suspicious" as playground equipment "doesn't normally catch alight by itself".



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