Flames were shooting from the windows and roof of an apartment block in Merewether when Newcastle fire crew arrived last Monday.
Firefighters quickly readied hose lines and dragged them up to the third-floor unit to fight the fire. Wearing breathing apparatus and with the use of a thermal-imaging camera to locate the fire through the thick, black smoke, firefighters immediately starting attacking the blaze.
Arriving crews from Merewether and Lambton assisted, and soon realised the fire had extended into the common roof space and was in danger of spreading to neighbouring units.
Newcastle’s ladder platform appliance was deployed to fight the fire from above. Firefighters on the platform removed tiles to access the roof void and sprayed a water and foam mixture.
Due to the heavy smoke logging and risk of the fire spreading, the entire apartment complex was evacuated. Firefighters also found asbestos in the eaves. It was treated by Newcastle Hazmat unit to prevent the release of dangerous fibres.
Firefighters worked for several hours to ensure the fire was completely extinguished and had not spread. The ceiling in the fire-affected unit had to be pulled down to allow access to the burning beams.
One female was treated at the scene for burns and several other residents for smoke inhalation. More than 35 people and 10 pets were evacuated from the complex.