Firefighters save family of five in Homebush unit fire

Published: 30th August 2012

Fire & Rescue NSW (FRNSW) Deputy Commissioner Jim Smith has praised the actions of firefighters who rescued a family of five during a unit fire in Homebush West last night.

Firefighters from Lidcombe, Concord and Burwood stations responded to numerous Triple-0 calls reporting an explosion and fire on a balcony of a three-storey unit block in Henley Rd just before 11pm.

Firefighters arrived within nine minutes to find a second-level unit well alight. About 150 residents were evacuated from the block and firefighters quickly brought the fire under control.

However a family of five, including a two-year-old child and an elderly woman, were stranded on a balcony due to the smoke-logged stairwell.

“While the initial fire crews rapidly attacked and contained the fire other firefighters stayed with the family to protect them until it was safe for them to be evacuated. I want to commend them for their actions during very difficult circumstances,” Deputy Commissioner Smith said.

Paramedics assessed the family before they were transported to hospital as a precaution.

Deputy Commissioner Smith said the explosion and resulting fire were believed to be caused by gas leaking from a deteriorated gas line on a barbecue.

"The gas has leaked out and ignited, possibly from an electrical spark from the split-system airconditioning unit on the balcony, resulting in an explosion and major unit fire," he said.

“Fortunately no one was injured during this incident but it serves as a timely reminder for householders to check their barbecues, especially with the weather warming up and people starting to fire them up again after a winter hiatus.”
Barbecue fire safety tips include:

• Service and maintain your barbecue correctly - check cylinders for rust or damage and make sure connections are clear and fit properly before lighting.

• Keep children away from barbecues.

• Have a supply of water close by and, if possible, a fire extinguisher as well.

• Never put flammable liquid on a barbecue.

• Make sure the gas is turned off at the cylinder once you’re done.