Fire struck one of Grenfell’s oldest businesses’ early last Friday morning. The fire raged through the apartment on the top floor of McClintock’s Farm Supply, Machinery and Spare Parts store at approximately 3.40am on Friday morning trapping three occupants inside.
The occupants, including one female in her twenties and two males – one aged 28 and the other aged in his late sixties - were woken by the noise of the flames that were beginning to engulf the premises. The older male managed to fight his way through the smoke and flames to the rear of the building and eventually made a three metre jump to safety.
The young male was able to wake the female resident and both made their way to the front of the apartment where the male smashed the screen and window to enable them to escape onto the front awning facing Main Street. The young woman was already suffering from smoke inhalation and severe burns and, to make matters worse, they were both still in grave danger from the flames that were following them.
By this time, according to eyewitnesses who had been awakened by the noise of the inferno, the flames had completely taken over the top floor of the building.
As luck would have it however, a delivery truck (apparently running 45 minutes early on the delivery route) was making its way up Main Street at the same time as the two occupants were climbing out on to the awning. The driver of the truck saw what was happening and immediately began to attempt to manoeuvre his vehicle as close as he could to the awning thus providing an avenue of escape for the male and female.
Alan Fraser, the owner of the Broula King gold mine, who was staying at the Grenfell Motel, was also awakened by the noise and had made his way down to the scene of the fire. He was able to render assistance to the truck driver by guiding him as close as possible to the awning thus allowing the male resident to lower the female down on to the top of the truck. The driver then immediately moved to the centre of the street to await the arrival of the emergency services with the female resident still on top of the vehicle. They didn’t have long to wait as the emergency services, including Ambulance, Fire and Rescue and the SES were quickly on the scene after being notified by local residents of the unfolding situation.
The emergency services personnel managed to encase the female resident in a ladder slide basket where she was transferred to an ambulance and rushed to Orange Base Hospital. The female was then flown by helicopter on Friday afternoon to Sydney’s Concord Hospital Burns Unit were she is receiving treatment for severe burns covering most of her body. In the meantime the young male resident managed to jump from the awning to the pavement – a fall of some three metres – without apparent injury although he had to seek treatment over the weekend for severe bruising and delayed shock.
The lower end of Main Street was closed to traffic for the rest of the day owing to the fire. Business owners, including the Grenfell Record, were not able to return to their buildings until later in the afternoon after forensic police from Tumut had finished their investigation.
Electricity was restored to the affected businesses by late Friday afternoon.
No official cause of the fire has yet been issued by investigating police, although it is widely believed that a radiator and a blanket may have been involved. However, at this stage, that is only speculation.
The latest Police report on the incident on Monday afternoon states that the young woman who suffered severe burns is “responding well to treatment and is no longer considered to be critical.
Preliminary investigations indicate that there are no suspicious circumstances and police are now preparing a report for the Coroner”.
Police would also like to take this opportunity to ensure that bedding material or any flammable items are not placed in front of heaters.
And secondly – to test all that all smoke detectors are working correctly – it may save your life.