AN INVESTIGATION is under way into a fire that wiped out 18 cars in a Tamworth wrecking yard, and forced the evacuation of homes on Tuesday afternoon.
At least 20 people were evacuated from their homes along Sue Crescent, West Tamworth, after fire took hold of an old wrecking yard in a paddock about 1.45pm.
Frantic residents scrambled to protect their properties with garden hoses as the fire inched closer to adjoining properties.
Neighbours raced onto the street and watched the drama unfold, as explosions from burning tyres and fuel rang out across the scene.
Two people were treated for smoke inhalation.
Emergency crews cordoned the street off with firefighters extinguishing much of the blaze by 2.30pm.
NSW Fire and Rescue Tamworth station officer Michael Harvey told The Leader the “rapid” blaze was sparked by a grass fire.
“We had a small grass fire in a wrecking yard and that quickly spread to 18 vehicles,” he said.
“It’s travelled through the long grass and subsequently ignited 18 stored vehicles.
“There was no threat to the residents or the homes themselves. The only threat was the smoke and we got the residents to evacuate as a precaution.
“Approximately 20 people were evacuated from the houses adjoining the property and from neighbouring properties.”
The firefighter described the operation as challenging and praised the work of crews in getting on top of the situation quickly.
“One of the main dangers with stored vehicles is tyres,” he said.
“Tyres tend to explode when heated and any sort of fuels that may have been within the vehicles.
“And also just the unknown element what is under or contained in the vehicles themselves.
“It was a very hot day and a very rapid moving fire for us.
“There were no causalities but we have had some brave residents that were bravely trying to defend their properties and they suffered a little bit of smoke inhalation and they are being treated by ambulance.”
Mr Harvey said the cause of the grass fire was unknown.
Tamworth detectives remained at the scene of the blaze late Tuesday afternoon to conduct inquiries surrounding the incident.
EARLIER: Fire & Rescue NSW has confirmed about 20 vehicles are alight in a wrecking yard in Green St.
Ten people have so far self-evacuated.
There is no impact on nearby properties.
WEST TAMWORTH | UPDATE: Approx 20 vehicles are alight in a wrecking yard in Green St. 10 people have self-evacuated. There is no impact on nearby properties. Firefighting ops continue— Fire & Rescue NSW (@FRNSW) March 13, 2018
Firefighters remain on scene to contain the blaze.
EARLIER: EMERGENCY services are on the scene of a raging fire at a wrecking yard in Tamworth.
The blaze is believed to have broken out in the rear of the Green Street premises in Coledale a short time ago.
Plumes of thick black smoke could be seen coming from the property from as far as the Tamworth CBD.
At least two Fire & Rescue NSW crews from West Tamworth responded to the incident, as well as local police, who have since cordoned off the area.
Neighbours and onlookers can be seen scrambling to protect their properties using nearby garden hoses.
Initial reports suggested the blaze started in a vehicle.
But Fire & Rescue NSW crews have since confirmed numerous vehicles are alight in the wrecking yard.
Emergency services remain on scene.
WEST TAMWORTH | Numerous vehicles are alight at a wrecking yard in Green St. Firefighters are working to contain the fire. Smoke is visible in the area.— Fire & Rescue NSW (@FRNSW) March 13, 2018
More details as they come to hand.