When police knocked on Lyn and Daryl Whateley’s door at 3.30am Monday asking them to evacuate, the couple did not know what to expect.
It wasn’t until they saw the inferno that had engulfed their neighbour’s home in Davidson St, north Deniliquin they started to worry.
They could only watch on helplessly as the neighbouring home was completely gutted by the fire, and as intense flames surged closer and closer to their own.
But thanks to the efforts of dedicated firefighters, the Whateley’s home was spared.
The only damage was to the paint on the wall closest to the fire which Mr Whateley, a former firefighter himself, described as ‘‘rampant’’.
‘‘I can’t express highly enough my gratitude to the firefighters who protected and saved our home,’’ Mr Whateley said.
‘‘The fire brigade was phenomenal and their efforts exceptional. All emergency services were extremely courteous and helpful in circumstances that were stressful.
‘‘Luckily no one was home (next door), but we didn’t know that at the time.
‘‘We even had to leave our cat inside because he was hiding, so we were grateful to see him out the back once it was all over.
‘‘We thought we were done and the house would be gone, but there was only minor scorching on the side of our house. We are extremely relieved.’’
Deniliquin Fire + Rescue NSW Captain Martin Smith said when crews arrived at the scene, the single storey home was well alight.
Firefighters set up protection for the house next door and then tried to control the fire. They were forced to fight the blaze from outside, because of the risk of a roof collapse.
‘‘The fire spread throughout the entire structure due to its timber construction, and the winds made it a very hot fire,’’ Capt Smith said.
‘‘At times the flames were well above the height of the house, and also above the house next door.
‘‘It was a great effort by crews to stop the fire spreading to the house next door, which only had blistered paint on the exterior.
‘‘Once the fire was contained crews used the thermal imaging camera to extinguish remaining hot spots.’’
Deniliquin’s Rural Fire Service brigade provided additional fire protection at the rear of the home, to ensure the blaze did not spread.
Finley Fire + Rescue NSW also provided crews to support Deniliquin Fire + Rescue NSW.
‘‘Crews returned to the station after some refreshments, cleaned up and restowed both appliances with hoses, breathing apparatus sets were cleaned, cylinders filled and uniforms changed over before departing the station at 11am to return to our normal day jobs,’’ Capt Smith said.
‘‘A big thank you needs to be extended to local employers for allowing their employees to attend to their duties and help protect their local community at these times.’’
The Pastoral Times was unable to speak to the residents of the destroyed home.
Capt Smith said while it appears the origin of the fire was in the corridor and kitchen area of the home — which suffered the most extensive damage — the cause is not yet known.
Police forensic examiners are investigating. As investigations continue, detectives are appealing for anyone with information to come forward.
Information can be provided to CrimeStoppers by calling 1800 33 000, or through the online reporting portal at https://nsw.crimestoppers.com.au.