Investigators probe Derrinallum house fire

ARSON squad chemists and Country Fire Authority (CFA) investigators spent yesterday trying to determine the cause of a fire which destroyed a house in Derrinallum. 

The fierce blaze had fully engulfed the brick-clad house when CFA crews arrived just before 3.30am. No one was home at the time. 

CFA investigators spent the morning sifting through the remains of the house, believed to be a rental property, before police arson chemists arrived on the scene late in the afternoon.

Details of the home’s occupants were not available yesterday. 

All that remained by daylight were two brick chimneys and twisted roofing iron. 

Derrinallum Fire Brigade’s Lieutenant Geoffrey Henderson said when he arrived it was clear there was nothing they could do to save the house. 

“The walls and everything were still standing, but to be honest, it was clear we couldn’t do anything to save it,” he told The Standard. 

“We did an assessment to see if we could get inside, but it was fully engulfed, there is no way we could have gone in. Once we were satisfied there was no one trapped inside, we went about saving the property on the north side of the house. 

“We set up a line to protect the neighbouring house, then just let it burn out. There was nothing else we could do.” 

Mr Henderson said their main focus was preventing the spread of asbestos. 

“We couldn’t really put water on the house, otherwise we would have had asbestos running everywhere,” he said. 

“Like most houses built in the ’70s and ’80s there was plenty of asbestos inside. 

“We had crews on the scene until late in the afternoon managing that situation, it will be an ongoing process.”

He said it was always sad to have a house fire in a small community like Derrinallum, especially in the lead-up to Christmas. 

“When you lose a house in a small community, they often aren’t rebuilt,” he said. 

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