Millingandi residents did all they could

Residents of Merimbula Lake Holiday Park, Millingandi have spoken of the rescue efforts made to save a neighbour as his onsite cabin was overwhelmed by fire on Saturday.

As fire took hold and gas bottles began venting, eight fire trucks, police and paramedics raced to the park at about 3.30pm.

Park resident Michelle Nitschki said they knew their neighbour was in the cabin but there was nothing they could do. 

“All the residents banded together to try to put out the fire. At one point they had 11 hoses going but there wasn't enough water pressure to even make a difference. Soon people realised we couldn't put out the fire so they started hosing off their own places because there was a lot of wind and we weren't sure how far it would spread,” Ms Nitschki said.  

Geoffrey Hodg was the first person into the cabin but was beaten back by the smoke and flames. 

"I sprinted there and then saw it was Brian's place on fire. I ripped the doors open and went in. I couldn't see through the smoke and I couldn't breath."

With strong winds and gas alight from venting bottles the fire quickly spread from the first caravan to three further caravans. 

"It all happened so quickly, once the gas bottles went off it took the house straight away. Adam Matthews partly scorched his own face trying to save Brian. He was working hard and would not stop until the firies told him to leave. He did all he could," Ms Nitschki said.

Four cabins and two cars were seriously affected by the fire which tragically resulted in the death of the 73-year-old resident. 

Stephen Holloway of Merimbula Fire and Rescue said firefighters were informed that the gas cylinders were venting and so knew it was pretty serious and just before they arrived were advised of a possible fatality.

“The RFS has two guys working in breathing apparatus. All cabins were totally destroyed and one storage shed was impacted with the contents destroyed, one car was gutted and one damaged,” Mr Holloway said.

RFS regional controller, John Cullen said that power had to be isolated and that it took about an hour to bring it fully under control.

“All involved did a wonderful job,” Mr Cullen said.

At this time, the cause of the fire remains unknown. Police will prepare a brief for the Coroner.


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