Blaze leaves doubt over Gunnedah's mini-railway

THE iconic home of Gunnedah’s miniature railway has been destroyed after an early morning blaze erupted.

For more than two decades, Don McDonagh’s elaborate model railway and miniature town in the front yard of his Barber St home has drawn thousands of families, locals and even out-of-towners to Barber St, but now its future is up in the air.

Early yesterday morning the long-term base in Gunnedah was devastated by fire after flames engulfed the brick and weatherboard home just before 2.30am.

Firefighters stormed the burning inferno but luckily no one was home at the time.

“The house was well and truly alight when we arrived,” Fire and Rescue Station Commander Rod Byrnes said.

Local firefighters fought the fire from the outside before attempting to extinguish it from the rear of the building.

“We had a few challenges, including fallen powerlines, which restricted access to the house,” Commander Byrnes said.

After Essential Energy cut power to the home, it took 12 firefighters less than three hours to completely douse the blaze which left barely anything unscathed.

The home’s main attraction remains in the front yard but the house has been cordoned off.

Gunnedah mayor Owen Hasler said the iconic family property was a huge loss for not only the family but the town as well.

“It’s a tragedy and no doubt he will be extremely upset and traumatised,” he said of Mr McDonagh.

“It’s an obvious attraction in the town, and it would be a great loss if it couldn’t be salvaged or erected in another place.”

Yesterday, investigators and detectives spent the day sifting through the remains of the ferocious blaze but Oxley Inspector Kylie Endemi said what sparked the blaze had not yet been determined. 

“Crime scene investigations are underway at the location to determine the cause,” she said.

As news trickled through of the blaze, many onlookers yesterday passed the home which will leave a big gap in the town’s attractions for visitors if it can’t be restored.

“It has certainly been, like Don, an iconic feature of our community, and it would be sad to see it not resurrected in some form for our community,” Mr Hasler said.

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