Newcomen: Police investigate suspicious fire in unit block at The Hill, Newcastle

Update: Thursday, 6.50am

Police are investigating after a suspicious unit fire in Newcastle overnight.

About 8.30pm on Wednesday, emergency services were called to a unit block on Newcomen at The Hill, after reports of a fire.

The building was evacuated as  NSW Fire & Rescue officers worked to extinguish the blaze.

The unit was destroyed as a result of the blaze. Other units sustained some fire damage and significant smoke damage.

Nine residents were evacuated with one woman treated for a laceration to her hand and smoke inhalation. She was taken to John Hunter Hospital in a stable condition.

Officers from Newcastle City Local Area Command established a crime scene.

The occupant of the unit, a 30-year-old woman was arrested for unrelated matters and taken to Newcastle Police Station.

She was charged with two counts of contravene prohibition/restriction in AVO (Personal), and breach of bail.

The woman was refused bail to appear at Newcastle Local Court today (Thursday 28 September 2017).

The cause of the fire is yet to be determined. Initial inquiries have led police to believe the fire is suspicious.

Police are urging anyone with information in relation to this incident to call Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.

Earlier:

Residents were evacuated – including seven who were rescued by firefighters – from the two-storey building shortly after 8pm.

The fire affected two units and several others were damaged by smoke.

The blaze prompted a huge response from emergency services and senior firefighters said it was “touch and go” when the call came through.

Resident Lars Tryk said it was chaos when his neighbour raised the alarm.

“She just screamed out, ‘fire, fire, fire',” he told the Newcastle Herald. “I opened my door and all you could see was smoke.”

Robert Keagan said it was lucky no one was seriously injured.

“Someone could have died,” he said.

Firefighters were on the scene for several hours on Wednesday night, blocking off a section of the street as search operations took place.

Paramedics took three people to hospital, including one who was treated for smoke inhalation and two others who had lacerations.

Fire and Rescue NSW Newcastle Inspector Peter Nies said two units were “totally involved” with fire on the arrival of first responders.

“It was touch and go until those first crews arrived,” Inspector Nies said.

“Firefighters have handled themselves brilliantly.”

No cause for the fire could be established on Wednesday.

Police were handling the investigation.