Children at child care centre saved from car crash

Published: 15th December 2003

This afternoon firefighters from Manly Fire Station rescued three injured children from a child care facility after a car crashed through the structure and burst into flames.

The incident began around 1:20 pm when fire crews responded to ‘000’ calls reporting a school fire in Balgowlah Rd, Fairlight. When Manly fire crews arrived four minutes later they immediately saw smoke coming from a child care centre.

On closer inspection it was found that a car had careered through a wall and window of the centre and was on fire. Several children were trapped inside the badly damaged structure, some of them seriously injured.

Whilst a request for urgent assistance was relayed, firefighters initiated a search and rescue operation. Fire crews from Manly, Dee Why and Mosman were joined by Ambulance personnel, centre staff, council workers and members of the public to undertake a phenomenal rescue effort. Two firefighters, with the assistance of a courageous helper, physically lifted the car to free trapped and injured children.

Firefighters also attacked the fire so it would not cause further harm or hamper rescue efforts. Crews had the fire extinguished within five minutes of their arrival.

All children who were immediately locatable were freed and moved to the safety and care of Ambulance Officers. One child was still unaccounted for and the Narrabeen Fire/Rescue unit was called upon to lift the vehicle and search underneath. Thankfully nobody was found underneath and a short time later the missing child was located.

Unfortunately, eight children suffered injuries, with two in a serious condition. The driver of the car also sustained injuries. In total 48 children and staff were evacuated from the facility.

All casualties were treated at the scene by Ambulance personnel and subsequently transported to hospital; including one child by rescue helicopter.

The cause of the accident is being investigated by the Police who have declared the area a crime scene. They are being assisted by the New South Wales Fire Brigades Fire Investigation Unit.

In a cruel twist of fate, the firefighters were organised to deliver Santa to this child care centre at 4pm this afternoon.

The Commissioner for the New South Wales Fire Brigades, Mr Greg Mullins, was very impressed by the rescue effort and indicated that recommendations for commendations to acknowledge the heroic efforts of firefighters, other services and members of the public would be made.