Tragedy visited Magnetic Island for Christmas last night when a house on the corner of Mandalay Avenue and Bottiger Street in Nelly Bay burned to the ground taking the life of its owner, a Nelly Bay man in his 40s, whose name is yet to be released. It is understood that there were no suspicious circumstances but a forensic team were investigating the fire's cause today.
The fire started at about 10pm and, by chance, we (magnetictimes.com's owner/managers) were returning on foot from a Christmas celebration nearby and witnessed much of the disaster.
We first noticed a glowing and intense plume of smoke billowing skyward as we made our way down Mandalay Avenue. We wondered at first if it were simply a large Christmas bonfire. As we approached however figures could be seen shouting and in anguish in the street. Some were trying to restrain and console others but as soon as the fire was visible to us it was obvious that the house was fully ablaze with no hope of being saved.
A neighbour hoses the gas bottle
Of particular concern was the sight of a large domestic gas bottle fixed to the front of the house. Large and intense flames were consuming the wall just a metre away while a plucky neighbour trained his small garden hose towards it hoping to keep it cool while we waited desperately for the fire truck to arrive.
Other neighbours were pushing a truck out of harm's way from the burning house's driveway and onto the street. It all seemed touch and go for a while as some warned the gathering bunches of concerned onlookers to stay well back in case the gas bottle did go up.
A few minutes later MI Police, ambulance, SES and the fire truck appeared and quickly the local team were into place disconnecting threatened power lines and bravely venturing towards the bottle with a proper fire hose. As the fire appeared to be coming from the main body of the house the fire crew focussed on limiting the blaze's impact on the garage which was rumoured to contain quantities of petrol. At one point the garage roller door became red hot but bucked to enable the fire crew to drag it away and allow them to train more water inside. This strategy may well have saved the neighbouring house which stood just a few metres away and was the only other nearby residence to the corner block home.
Taking up a position to halt traffic we watched as the fire continued to burn with incredible force with flames reaching 6 or 7 metres.
With what appeared to be a lot of fuel the fire took a considerable time to be brought fully under control.
MI Fire Brigade's Lt Michael Tamlyn at the rear of the property today
Devastation throughout the house
View from the front path
Today the house was a scene of near total devastation and magnetictimes.com wishes the family involved our condolences and sincere hope that they may never have to endure another Christmas such as this.