14 December 2020

Fatal house fire in Moruya deemed 'accidental'

| Hannah Sparks
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Exterior of burnt-out house in Moruya.

A fire that killed a Moruya man took just 10 to 20 minutes to engulf the house. Photo: Karyn Starmer.

A house fire in Moruya Heads that killed a man believed to be aged in his 80s in the early hours of Sunday, 6 December, has been labelled as ‘accidental’ by police.

Batemans Bay Police Station Acting Inspector Tim Winkelman told Region Media the cause of the fire is still under investigation, however it isn’t being treated as suspicious and is considered accidental at this stage.

Fire and Rescue NSW completed a full investigation at the house on Dell Parade the day after the fire and has been working with NSW Police ever since. However, the house was fully engulfed in flames during the fire, leaving little evidence for investigators to work with.

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“The cause will probably be marked as undetermined because of the extent of the damage,” said Moruya Fire and Rescue Captain Mark Gould a week after the incident.

Emergency services were alerted to the fire at around 3.15 am by neighbours of the elderly resident. However, the fire had been burning for some time until an explosion, likely caused by the glass in a window exploding from the heat, awoke residents.

There were reports the elderly man was sleeping in the front bedroom of the home. However, firefighters didn’t find the man when they broke through the front bedroom window to carry out a search.

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Captain Gould said the house was fully engulfed by fire by the time the fire brigade arrived and it had only taken 10 to 20 minutes to sweep through the property.

The man’s body was located once firefighters extinguished the blaze, which took about 30 minutes.

Captain Gould advised anyone with elderly neighbours to pay them a visit this Christmas to check if their smoke alarm is working.

While the elderly man’s smoke alarm would have been destroyed by the fire by the time the brigade arrived, it could have alerted neighbours to the fire sooner than the explosion.

NSW Fire and Rescue Moruya will check and replace fire alarms for free for people aged 65 and above, or anyone on a low income.

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