A family and their house in Ling Place, Karabar, was saved by firefighters from Queanbeyan last night in what has been described as a timely reminder of dangers of the current dry conditions.
When firefighters responded to several triple zero calls at about 8:30 pm, they arrived to find flames coming from a second-floor bedroom.
Smoke alarms had alerted the mother and her son inside the house and they were able to evacuate themselves safely before firefighters arrived.
Twelve firefighters, two pumpers and an additional tanker were able to quickly extinguish the fire before it spread to the rest of the home.
Inspector Phillip Eberle from Queanbeyan Fire and Rescue told Region Media he has a new respect for the current conditions, given how easily the fire started.
Inspector Eberle said the fire began when heat from an external light on the house caused a branch from a pencil pine touching the light to ignite. A number of pencil pines were up against the roofline of the house and in a very short time, started to smoulder.
With the prevailing light winds, the pencil pines ignited and the fire quickly spread to the house.
“Smoke alarms worked really effectively and alerted the owner, and when she went down the hallway she saw flames coming out of the bedroom and evacuated the house with her son and put him in a safe place and called triple zero,” Inspector Eberle said.
“The fire brigade responded and arrived inside six or seven minutes. They got inside the house and into the bedroom and stopped the fire from spreading any further than one or two metres inside the room and also stopped it from getting on to the roof. They did a great job.”
No one was injured and NSW Ambulance officers did some protocol treatment of the mother for minor smoke inhalation. The husband had arrived home as the fire began and their son was given a hand-knitted teddy bear by one of the firefighters at the scene.
Inspector Eberle said the fire was a very timely reminder of having working smoke alarms and also highlights the very dry conditions the region is facing.
“The pencil pine that had been touching the light heated up enough and started smouldering. So for the light to heat a pencil pine and then start a house fire tells me there is a lot of very dry material out there.
“The smoke alarms did a great job. They warned the people and everyone responded and did a great job. The situation could have been a lot worse.
“There’s a lot of very dry foliage around people’s houses and I have a new respect for the conditions after last night’s fire. It was such a simple ignition source and a very timely reminder.”
Meanwhile, the Snowy Monaro Regional local government area will start the Bush Fire Danger Period a month early this year due to ongoing dry conditions. The NSW Rural Fire Service is urging residents to prepare now for what could be a long and protracted fire season.
While 1 October is when the 2018/19 bush fire season officially starts, the Snowy Monaro Regional local government area will begin the fire season on 1 September.
NSW RFS Monaro District manager, Jim Darrant, is urging residents to make and discuss their bush fire survival plan.
“This is to ensure all members of the household know what to do on days of increased fire danger and what to do if their home is threatened by fire,” Mr Darrant said.
“Residents should prepare their property by removing flammable materials from their yards, clearing leaves from gutters, checking hoses can reach all around the house and where appropriate, and conducting hazard reduction activities.