WARNING – Some viewers may find footage distressing
By Helen Tatchell
Plumes of thick brown smoke roared from the under the eaves of an old cottage style house in Ballan last Tuesday 9 April.
The weatherboard house, on the corner of Lay and Inglis streets was uninsured.
Onlookers were helpless to assist as the fire took hold and the call to Triple-000 was made at approximately 4pm.
A lone occupant, identified as a 24-year old female, was clearly distressed and anxious as she screamed for her pet dog, throwing herself on the ground numerous times as she waited for the fire brigade to arrive.
The silence on that still, cool autumn afternoon was only broken by the crackling of the burning house. Sirens in the distance eventually grew louder with brigades arriving from Ballan, Gordon, Greendale and Bacchus Marsh.
Police from Gordon and Ballan arrived and blocked the main street, detouring traffic around the area for around two-three hours.
It took over one hour to control and distinguish the blaze, with no flames visible from the outside.
Ballan firefighters attacked the fire in Breathing Apparatus from the rear of the property.
“Mainly the back of the house and roof is severely damaged as the kitchen was in the middle, where the fire possibly started in a chimney flue,” Ballan brigade Lieutenant Billy Smith said.
“Amazingly the front rooms of the house only suffered slight water and smoke damage,” he said.
On scene, CFA District 15 Officer Andrew Pearce told The Moorabool News the house is uninhabitable at this time.
“The occupants will need to be supported for temporary accommodation and consider a rebuild,” he said.
Mr Pearce said the cause would be investigated but believe it started in a chimney with the fire mainly contained in the roof, causing structural damage.
“It is a timely reminder for residents to check and maintain their chimneys and heater flues with regular inspections.
“With daylight saving coming to an end, this is a reminder to check, inspect and have working smoke alarms,” he said.
Sgt. Michael Kearnes (OIC Ballan) said the fire caused an estimated $200,000 damage.
“Unfortunately, the house was not insured and an ambulance on scene treated one person for smoke inhalation.”
The young lady and the pet dog were uninjured from the blaze, with family and supportive friends arriving as the fire was being extinguished.
A family of three own and reside at the house and will now make their caravan a temporary shelter.
A GoFund me page on Facebook has been set up to accept monetary donations for the family, with a box for donations of non-perishable food items at the Ballan IGA supermarket.