The sleeping occupants of a Warrnambool property were alerted to a fire at the rear of their house by a quick-thinking motorist early on Sunday morning.
Aiden Stuart, a crowd controller at The Whalers Hotel, was on his way home from work after dropping off two colleagues when he noticed an orange glow coming from a house on Raglan Parade about 4.30am.
By the time Mr Stuart had turned the car around and pulled over at the property, the fire had started to take off under the rear patio.
“I called emergency services and while I was on the phone to them I double checked all the windows and found that there were people inside the house,” he said.
“I woke them up and got them out. By that point, another one of the crowd controllers I work with had shown up.
“He helped me organise everything while we waited for the fire brigade to arrive.”
At one stage, the pair lost track of the home owner and thinking he may have gone back inside the house, they went inside to look for him.
However, he wasn’t in the house but a short distance away under a tree.
“By the time we got out the fire brigade had arrived,” Mr Stuart said.
He said it was too dangerous to try and fight the fire himself because there was a BBQ with a gas bottle attached right near the fire.
Mr Stuart said the fire could have potentially burnt the whole house had he not stopped.
“I’d rather take the extra time out and done what I did and make sure everything was fine rather than to drive past and think they were just having a party and then wake up the next morning and there’s potentially two fatalities and a house gone,” he said.
When Mr Stuart first noticed the fire he said it was so small he could have easily dismissed it as a small camp fire. “It didn’t look quite right, and being 4.30 in the morning you don’t think anyone is going to be up having a party,” he said.
Detective Senior Constable Craig Wastell, of Warrnambool Criminal Investigation Unit, the occupants were very lucky that Mr Stuart was driving past and decided to investigate. “Especially at that time of the morning, it could be half an hour or more between cars going past,” he said.
“The fire was fairly well involved by the time the CFA got there.”
The decking of the verandah was destroyed, and there was fire and water damage to the rear of the house.
Country Fire Authority senior station officer Robert Howell said four fire trucks and 12 firefighters attended the blaze which they were able to bring under control within 15 minutes. The fire was not suspicious.