A MOTOR mechanic business was partially destroyed by fire on Saturday night on Goonoo Goonoo Rd that threatened neighbouring businesses.
Residents were evacuated from Alice St and the Equine Motel when Brad’s Autos was engulfed in flames at about 6.30pm on Saturday.
A dog that was at the business premises was also safely evacuated.
West Tamworth NSW Fire Brigades station commander Brian Howard said firefighters had to approach the building carefully due to the presence of motor vehicles, gas and fuel and they knew of the presence of oxy acetylene cylinders.
West Tamworth and Tamworth City attended the fire, with 24 firefighters on the scene, along with police and ambulance.
He said half the workshop was engulfed when they arrived on scene, the roof was partially collapsed and there were 14 cars in the vicinity – eight inside and six in the yard outside.
“It made firefighting conditions hazardous,” Firefighter Howard said.
“We used breathing apparatus and we managed to cut off the fire and saved half the building and saved 13 out of the 14 cars. It was a pretty good save considering it was an older style building measuring 25 metres by 15 metres.”
A neighbouring resident said she was evacuated from her unit at about 7.15pm and knew nothing about the fire until then.
“My flat is the furthest away from the mechanics so I didn’t hear anything, but was doing the washing when I heard banging on the front door and opened it to find a police officer there,” she said.
“He told me I needed to get out of my flat. When I walked out I saw the workshop was completely engulfed by flame. I was a bit worried because there isn’t much of a gap between the business and our flats. I also heard minor explosions going on in there then realised he would have flammable chemicals in there.”
Residents were made to move to Kent St for their safety and were able to return to their homes just after 8.30pm.
Firefighter Howard said it was a busy time because the Knights vs Sharks NRL trial game was on at Scully Park, which is nearby in Kent St.
“We had a lot of traffic and we were held up a little,”he said.
Police closed the Tamworth bound lanes of Goonoo Goonoo Rd while firefighters extinguished the fire, which took more than three hours, with crews leaving the scene at about 10pm.
Firefighter Howard thanked Tamworth police for closing the road so quickly and diverting traffic and Essential Energy who cut off the power and re-established power to the adjacent veterinary practice, where animals were on drips and the surgery was in need of electricity.
The veterinary practice was not damaged.
Police are now investigating the cause of the fire.
Tamworth supervisor Sergeant Fuhrman said the exact cause hadn’t been determined and was under investigation, with crime scene detectives on scene yesterday morning.