Grand old girl gone

Renee Pilcher

A SERIES of mini explosions was heard as smoke alarms went off one by one inside the historic Queenslander on Tuesday night.

Fire spread quickly through the old building, which became a raging inferno, emitting extreme heat and thick smoke.

Emergency services were called about 10pm by passers-by, who heard the alarms and noticed flames flickering inside the windows. The best firefighters could do was protect adjacent properties and nearby parked cars.

An elderly couple living next door on Amy St required help evacuating after concerned neighbours found them inside their home, too shocked to move. Rooms in the only part of the building still standing were blackened by smoke, but firefighters said this corner of the structure, which was the least impressive of the whole building, might be salvageable.

Police said preliminary investigations suggested no suspicious circumstances however fire scene investigation officers were examining the scene yesterday, looking for any clues to find out the cause.

The fire was believed to have started at the side of the building farthest from the road. Fortunately the building was unoccupied at the time.

Substantial renovations were completed in 2009 by the Department of Communities with funding from Queensland Health for the Choice Support Service.

Choice support team leaders waited across the road at St Peter's Anglican Church to deliver the devastating news to their clients and redirect them to a temporary facility.

Tears were shed for what was lost - on many different levels.

The Gympie community as a whole expressed sadness in losing the iconic structure, built for William Smyth, mayor of Gympie from 1883 to 1884, and his family.

For many years it was used as a home and adjoining doctor's surgery.

During these years the grand old house lost much of its splendour, with nearly two years of work required to return it to its former glory.

Gympie Times

Topics:  fire gympie

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