Engulfed

A fire tore through a 140-year-old vacant house in Boorowa Street on Wednesday, guttering the premises. 

After becoming alight around 3pm, fire quickly engulfed the premises. 

Firefighters were on the scene not long after, however the house was reduced to little more than a skeleton of its old self.

They battled the blaze for about an hour, taking 15 minutes to contain it.

Young Fire and Rescue captain Don Smyth said although it was too early to know for sure, he was not ruling out suspicious circumstances.

“I’ve ruled out that it was electrical and ruled out it was lightening, I haven’t ruled out it was deliberately lit.”

He said there were no serious injuries as a result of the fire.

Owner of adjacent property South West Tiles Rosemary Carnley was inside the shop when the fire started.

Her son Robert Carnley, who was also working at the time, heard a clunk coming from the property.

He opened the blind to look into the property and saw smoke billowing from it.

“Well it was horrendous with the flames and the black smoke, I couldn’t breathe,” Rosemary said. 

“I’ve got emphysema, but there were lots of lovely people who helped me.

“Craig Foster from across the road was amazing running over and helping us move the cars.”

She said she was surprised how many people were gathering around, even blocking the fire trucks, especially considering the fumes.

Rosemary said she’d long thought the property was a fire hazard.

“We were expecting this to happen for 18 months,” she said.

“We kept saying if that caught, we’d be gone.”

She said they’re lucky their property did not sustain more damage, especially when their gas meter was next to her wall.

Rosemary said the vacant premise was a popular hangout for local youths, who often smoked inside but nothing appeared to be done about it.

Captain Smyth said they were aware of asbestos being present in the building however he said it did not pose a threat.

“It was not a big concern when we were inside the house fighting, we had breathing apparatus on,” he said.

“Anyone else were made to wear masks near the smoke.

“Once the fire was out we dampened the asbestos, it will stay contained unless someone disturbs it.”

Rosemary said she was saddened to see such a historic house up in flames having known the last person to occupy the house, Bonnie Paine.

“They were the most beautiful people.

“To see what happened to it after she passed was just criminal.

“It had little rooms and everything just sparkled.”

The house is currently listed on the market with Ray White.

Acting Sergeant Cootamundra LAC Mick Wood said crime scene officers would be attending the site on Thursday, March 13 to help determine a cause.

“There are no suspects at this stage and it appears there were no persons in the residence at the time of the fire,” he said.

“If anyone has any information they can contact Young Police on 6382 8199 or Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.”