House on highway destroyed by fire

Only occupant escaped the deadly flames with minor burns.
Only occupant escaped the deadly flames with minor burns.

UPDATE: Peter Ardrey may have lost all of his possessions when a fire destroyed his house yesterday, but the Warwick man escaped with only minor burns.

Mr Ardrey was using a grinder when a rogue spark started the fire in his shed, which quickly spread to his timber home at the southern end of Wallace St shortly after 9am.

A young neighbour was gardening in Mr Ardrey's yard when he saw the fire and ran to another neighbour and called 000.

A loud bang was heard by residents in neighbouring streets after a gas cylinder exploded but by then Mr Ardrey - who uses a wheelchair - was metres away.

Mr Ardrey's mother Wendy said he had lost everything.

"All he came out with was his wallet and wheelchair," she said.

Next door neighbour Josh Sternsdorf said he was in the house when he heard a massive bang.

"The house just shook," he said.

While concerned about the fire's proximity to his own house, Mr Sternsdorf was more worried about his neighbour.

"I ran out and jumped the fence to see if Peter was all right and he was already out and up near the gate," he said.

"It's bloody terrible."

Mr Ardrey suffered from superficial burns and was taken to the Warwick Hospital.

Warwick police officer in charge Senior Sergeant Stewart Day said the house was well ablaze by the time police arrived on the scene after 9.15am and there was nothing fire crews could do to save it.

The street was lined with cars and onlookers when the Daily News arrived at the scene but the police quickly set up an exclusion zone closing the highway from Bracker Rd down to Bisley St.

Forensic fire crews and police scoured the scene yesterday and concluded there were no suspicious circumstances.


3pm: The New England Highway on Warwick's southside has re-opened to traffic after being closed due to a house fire earlier this morning.

A timber dwelling set back from the road on the western side of the highway just south of Bisley was engulfed in flames at around 9am.

Fire crews were unable to save the dwelling and police set up an exclusion zone partly due to a quantity of exploding ammunition stored legally on the property.

A semi-trailer parked behind the residence was also destroyed.

Welding equipment and gas bottles are also believed to have contributed to the blaze, which initial reports suggest was started by a spark from a metal grinder. 

Neighbours reported hearing a large explosion which one said sounded "like a bomb going off". 

A male occupant of the dwelling in a wheelchair managed to escape and has been taken to Warwick Hospital for treatment for minor burns.

He is understood to have lost everything in the blaze and was assisted at the scene by relatives and ambulance officers.

Onlookers were warned to stay well clear of the scene due to the potential for continuing explosions.

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Topics:  house fire

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