“When we arrived, there were some people standing in the smoke trying to fight the fire with a nearby fire hose reel.”
CFA District 8 Commander Ian Cross was amongst those called to a fire that engulfed six shops on Princes Hwy, Beaconsfield in July, cut off peak hour traffic, and risked spreading to neighbouring stores.
“CFA crews were confronted with a significant amount of smoke and several shops on fire,” Commander Cross said.
He said crews assessed the scene as soon as they hit the ground.
“We checked the structural integrity of the building and while it was severely damaged, the building was still intact.
“One of the shops was an antique store, and we’re talking it was packed to the ceiling with antique furniture. So a very high fuel load with highly polished furniture and trying to make our way through it was really difficult.”
Commander Cross said the fight was made even harder with all stores sharing a common roof space.
“There was no fire separation and that’s what saw the fire spread so rapidly through the shops. It took the two neighbouring restaurants out in no time at all.”
An aggressive internal fire attack saw firefighters stop the fire half way along the Taco Bill restaurant and saved the neighbouring nail and laundry businesses.
He said patrons at the pub across the road had a front row seat to the action.
“Yeah, the fire drew quite a crowd.”
A few members of the public were treated at the scene for minor smoke inhalation, with the fire scene declared safe at half-past-six that night.
An investigation determined the fire was sparked by either an overloaded power board or by an object falling over a heater.