by Scott Podmore
7th February 2016
A MAKESHIFT ashtray was the cause of a fire that gutted a house in Brackenbury Street, according to Warrandyte CFA, as emergency vehicles from Warrandyte, South Warrandyte, North Warrandyte and Eltham CFAs attended the blaze and quickly brought it under control.
Warrandyte CFA captain Adrian Mullens said: “It started at the back at the house – an old, small tomato tin used as an ashtray.”
The house was only a few hundred metres away from Yarra Street, Warrandyte’s busiest part of town, and fortunately no person or animal was injured in the blaze thanks to the excellent response by a combination of seven tankers and pumpers, police, ambulance and rehabilitation unit. A fire investigator and regional officers also attended.
Neighbours called 000 after smelling smoke about 1.30pm on Thursday January 28. Resident Cassie Jones told the Diary she could smell smoke for about half an hour before taking a look around the area to see where it was coming from.
“The CFA trucks were here within minutes,” she said.
“That same house only had a fire that did some damage just a few years ago as well.” Something the Warrandyte CFA confirmed this week, informing the Diary of a chimney fire at the property in recent years.
It is believed the house was left with extensive damage after fire came through the back wall near where the ashtray was situated and through the rooftop with large amounts of smoke billowing out and across nearby streets.
As one local pointed out, the fire is an ominous reminder that had the fire happened only a few weeks earlier on a low humidity, high temperature windy day, containment would have been very difficult.
The house is very close to the old goldmines and bushland protected as part of the Warrandyte State Forest, as well as several nearby houses and commercial buildings in the main street.
Smoke and embers emitted on a severe or catastrophic risk day would have created problematic spot fires in a challenging residential and commercial area.
While our CFA crews and emergency services clearly did a fantastic job, it’s also worth noting the strong community spirit shown on the Warrandyte Business and Commu- nity Group page when several locals immediately committed to offering all sorts of assistance and help for the owner of the property, including somewhere to stay.
“The owner was only gone for an hour and it happened in that time,” Warrandyte CFA captain Adrian Mullens told the Diary. “A pet dog was in the house and the minute the boys opened the door, the dog scooted so fortunately no people or animals were hurt.
The fire initially was in the roof space (the bulk of the fire) and where the ashtray burnt – the point of origin at the back wall.”
A Manningham building inspector arrived at the house, removed the certificate of occupancy, and power and gas was immediately disconnected while asbestos was also identified in the building.
“It certainly wasn’t habitable afterwards,” Capt Mullens said.
“We salvaged what we could get from the house but there’s extensive damage.”