This house in High Street was gutted on Thursday morning.
This house in High Street was gutted on Thursday morning. Ewan Leighton

Blaze blow to tourists

RIKA Otake could only stare down at the charred remains of her belongings lying on the ground after a fire tore through the house she was renting in Stanthorpe yesterday morning.

“See that bit there,” she pointed out.

“That’s a proper traditional Japanese dress.

“My mother sent that to me from home.”

The Japanese backpacker who has been in Stanthorpe for three months, and her three housemates were at work when the blaze took hold of the house just before 9am.

The Fire Brigade was called to the High St home at 9.10am and local firie Ian Barnden said the flames had taken hold by the time they arrived.

“Two crews from Stanthorpe and one from Warwick attended the blaze which took about half an hour to get under control and extinguish,” he said.

“We weren’t sure when we got here if there was anyone in the house so we had to treat it as though there were missing persons.

“But fortunately everyone was at work at the time and no-one was home.”

Neighbour Leesa Coco said the fire was frightening.

“Naturally when you live next-door it’s a bit scary,” Ms Coco said.

The cause of the blaze was not yet known with investigations starting today.

Mr Barnden had ruled out the wood heater which was not in use at the time as the cause of the fire and Const Jim Ellis said there were no suspicious circumstances.

“It just seems to happen at this time of year,” Const Ellis said.

The owner of the recently painted single-story home is from Gatton and had been notified and was on his way to Stanthorpe yesterday afternoon.

The house, which was completely gutted, was fenced off with police tape yesterday afternoon due to the presence of asbestos.

Mr Barnden said the public had reacted quickly with eight 000 calls fielded in regard to the fire.

The four backpackers had no idea where they would stay or what they would do for clothes.

It is the second fire to claim a house in Stanthorpe in the last two months.

The Hickson family lost everything at the end of April when their house caught fire not once but twice after the fire reignited hours after being put out.

Mr Barnden said the Warwick fire crew used equipment to look for hotspots in the High St house which would hopefully prevent a similar occurrence.



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