January 6th 2010
Picnic Bay restaurant destroyed by fire.
Last night a fire completely gutted the Antonio Moran Family Restaurant in Picnic Bay and this morning Police and Queensland Fire Rescue Service investigators were sifting through the remains of the blaze in which, fortunately, nobody was injured.
According to Magnetic Island Fire Service Captain, Mick Tamlyn, the alarm was raised after a local spotted flames at the back and sides of the building at 12.55am yesterday. Mick Tamlyn and a crew of three arrived first at 1.13am and were joined soon after by more firemen who quickly donned breathing apparatus in the hope of entering the building to fight the flames.
Mick Tamlyn was uncertain how long the fire had been burning prior to his arrival due to the very thick smoke but from his best observations it seemed that the fire began near the southern side wall at the end of the bar.
The fire probably began in the far side end of bar area A view through the devastation
“It spread low towards the rear but once into the bar there was more fire and when it reached the kitchen I think there was a lot of fat or oil there and it would have been only five or ten minutes before the whole building was engulfed,” he said.
Mick Tamlyn decided not to risk injuries by sending his crew into fight the fire. Instead they trained their hoses on the building until 5am.
“I couldn't say whether it was accidental or deliberate at this stage” he said.
CIB and QFRS investigators at work
View from the north side entrance
MI Fire Captain Mick Tamblyn completes a report after a
further smouldering was discovered
Townsville CIB investigators and QFRS forensic staff were also on the scene and making a detailed study of the remains.
QFRS Investigator, Mr Peter Falesina, told Magnetic Times, “We need to dig through the area of origin. My initial observation is that it began near the wall at the end of the bar area but, because of the internal layout where there are no internal walls, it was fast spreading after an initial build-up.”
Mr Falensa suggested there had been a “flash-over” a term which describes a build-up of heat from the fire which was consuming the available oxygen in the closed up building, “to a point where everything is really hot then everything starts to ignite.”
Mr Falensa said that the smoke itself would be extremely hot, perhaps 600 to 800 degrees.
Business owner Tony Moran, still recovering from a tooth extraction, was clearly distraught when he arrived this morning and, after a brief inspection, departed to the Police station to assist the investigation.
Mr Falensa praised the efforts of the Island fire crews. “They have done a good job. The structure remains.” he said adding that he didn't know at that point if smoke alarms had been operating but, “It's a reminder if you don't have fire alarms installed”
The view from the street shows little damage
History buffs will also be saddened by the fire as the restaurant incorporated the remains of the home which belonged to the Fraser family who were pioneers at Picnic Bay.
Story and photos: George Hirst
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