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"They carried those kids out, but these are tragic circumstances": Firie speaks on Glenroi blaze

June 3, 2023

The scene on Pimpala Place in Orange. Copyright: Orange News Examiner.

By Peter Holmes

At about 5:45 on Saturday morning (June 3, 2023), more than an hour before sunrise, a 000 call was made to report a house fire on Pimpala Place in Glenroi, south of the CBD.


Pimpala Place is a short cul de sac, of which there are several in this working class part of town.


Within six minutes Fire & Rescue trucks from the 412 brigade on Summer Street in Orange had arrived at the front of the home. A man had already escaped the blaze.



There were three 412 trucks, and some 16 officers, Fire and Rescue acting superintendent Dane Philippe told The Orange News Examiner on Saturday afternoon. Trucks from Bathurst and Blayney were called to assist but ultimately were not required.


“The front of the house was fairly well alight,” Philippe said.

Emergency responders had been made aware by the caller that there were people inside the house, including two children.




Philippe said that “modern furniture and synthetics” in many homes meant a fire could take hold “within minutes”.


Investigators will ultimately create a more accurate timeline, but Philippe estimated that only about 20 to 25 minutes would have elapsed between the fire sparking and being brought under control.

He praised the “brave, immediate action” of Orange firefighters who rescued two children from inside the house. He added: “Unfortunately we were unable to rescue one lady.”






Orange Fire and Rescue officers located the deceased inside the house, and will now work with investigators from Sydney to establish what sparked the blaze.







NSW Police said the children and adults “are from the same family”.

Philippe said he wasn’t aware of the room in which the children were located, but that they were taken from the blaze by firefighters, who administered first aid with police until NSW Ambulance paramedics took over.





The man - who police said had suffered burns after attempting to re enter the house - and the children were treated for smoke inhalation and transported to Orange Hospital.


At the time of writing there had been no official updates on their status.


The cause of the fire has yet to be determined.




NSW Police stated: “A crime scene has been established; specialist fire investigators and scene of crime officers will enter the building when it is deemed safe. Inquiries are now underway by detectives attached to Central West Police District.”







Building fires are generally treated as suspicious as a matter of course until a cause is established.



Asked what support would be offered to officers who attended the scene, Philippe said there were “really good measures in place as an organisation around peer support. I attended the scene to start that, then will follow up for attending crews”.



The house (left) on Pimpala Place. Copyright: Orange News Examiner.


“They carried those kids out," he said, "but these are tragic circumstances.”


Late on Saturday morning, around five hours after the blaze had been brought under control, a police car was blocking entrance to Pimpala Place. Police tape and Fire and Rescue tape was stretched out in various directions.


Police officers and other emergency service workers were quietly going about their business, talking to locals, securing the scene for investigators, tidying up.




In the aftermath of the momentary chaos and panic, a tragic, empty sameness eventually envelops such sites of unbearable sadness. There is shock and disbelief, because people never, ever expect this to happen in their street. And then there is silence. What do you say? What can be said?



The professionals get on with the work they were trained to do, each perhaps adding a little more emotional baggage to that already accumulated on the scales.


And for the family - words can’t begin to describe.


On the upswing of noon, a resident was standing in his front yard, taking in the scene while keeping one eye on interlopers.

Three primary school-aged boys walked to the edge of the no-go zone. They were curious, too young to comprehend the magnitude of what had just happened in the little cul de sac in Glenroi.


Anyone with information about this incident is urged to contact Crime Stoppers: 1800 333 000 or https://nsw.crimestoppers.com.au.





TIPS ON AVOIDING HOUSE FIRES


The cause of the fire on Pimpala Place is yet to be determined, however acting superintendent Dane Philippe from Fire and Rescue NSW said winter was typically the most dangerous time in Orange for house fires.


He offered these tips:


  1. Check smoke alarms;

  2. Check electric blanket cables for any bends or signs of damage;

  3. Inspect cables on bar heaters for bends or signs of damage. Wipe down any dust. Do not place anything on the heater, or leave it within a metre of the heater;

  4. Establish an escape plan with the members of the household. Work out how many escape routes you have, and how you would best employ them depending on the location of the fire.


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