Owner evacuated guests as fire raged just metres away
DESPITE the best efforts of fire crews, who took just fourteen minutes to respond to emergency calls, popular wedding venue Figtree Restaurant was destroyed by fire on Saturday.
NSW Fire & Rescue Zone Commander Michael Jay said they were called to the Ewingsdale fire at 3.15am, with firefighters from Byron Bay, Bangalow and Brunswick Heads finding the home and restaurant fully alight upon arrival.
They were backed up by with four tankers and 12 crew members from Rural Fire Service brigades Newrybar, Mullumbimby and Byron Bay.
"Fire-fighters were on scene at 3.29am and the incident was declared out at 8.55am," he said.
"It was weatherboard with a tin roof and the incident was further complicated with fibro containing asbestos in the structure, so firefighters wore breathing apparatus and set up an exclusion zone to restrict access.
"We also damped the area down to keep dust to a minimum and used a glue mixed with water to keep the asbestos particles from bonding with air."
Mr Jay said firefighters faced looming flames so intense they were unable to enter the building.
"The residents got the guests out as a precautionary manner," he said.
It is understood that the venue's owner-operator Che Devlin evacuated guests from The Dairy, only 25 metres from the fire.
Fire & Rescue Byron posted on social media: "It's a massive blow to the Devlin family and all our thoughts go out to Che and his impressive team, who have been busy organising today's planned wedding in an alternative location".
The Devlin family called the fire heartbreaking and thanked firefighters for trying to "save this special home".
The Devlin family who have run the venue since 1981, have received outpourings of sympathy and offers of assistance from the Byron community and beyond.
However, they said their first priority was contacting clients and relocating bookings to other Byron venues.
"We ask for your patience and consideration at this time," they posted.