ONE house has been completely destroyed and two extensively damaged in an afternoon fire in San Remo yesterday, Monday, May 29, that may have been started by exploding gas bottles.
The exact cause of the blaze is yet to be determined but it is being investigated by Bass Coast CIU.
The damaged and lost homes were located in The Broadway, off Shetland Heights Road, about 500 metres south of Phillip Island Road.
A resident of nearby Wonthaggi Crescent, Tony Vandeligt, was among a number of residents alerted to the incident by three explosions.
“I heard these three explosions, like gas cylinders purging and I came out to see what was going on.
“That was about 2.25pm. I could see flames immediately but by the time I phoned the fire brigade, someone had already called it in.
“I used to be a fire fighter but I can tell you, I’ve never seen a house burn down that quickly. It used to be a two-storey house but not now.
“A local fire truck got there pretty soon but on their own, they had no hope of saving the house. It was well alight in minutes and completely gone in half an hour.
“It makes you think, if you’re in it yourself, you’ve really only got minutes to get out.”
Mr Vandeligt said the fire was burning most fiercely on one side of the house, to the point where the up-wind house next door was also extensively damaged, an outside wall lost and the roof extensively damaged.
But it was the house on the down-wind side that was the next worst damaged,” Mr Vandeligt said.
It could also be a complete write-off.
Eventually a large number of fire trucks attended, and on a windy day, they saved the fire from spreading further down the street.
“It’s terrible shame but I don’t think anyone was in it. I think they were holiday houses which is bad enough for the owners.”
Acting Sergeant Ian Bruhn of the Wonthaggi Police confirmed that there were no occupants in the main house razed by fire.
He said he understood there were also no occupants in the other two houses.
“It appears not to be suspicious at this stage but until fire investigators have done their work, it remains under investigation by Bass Coast CIU,” Sgt Bruhn said.
At the time of going to press, the fire scene was still an active one with crews from several surrounding brigades including Cowes and Wonthaggi.
San Remo fire fighter, Rick McKay, was the incident controller.
Three houses go up in flames