A Barmah man was pulled to safety by a neighbour after his house was engulfed in flames.By Monique Preston
A Barmah man owes his life to a neighbour who dragged him out of his burning home late Wednesday night.
The man, 58, had been dozing on the couch in the lounge of his Lawford St home when he was woken by a smoke alarm.
Brigade crew leader Margy Derby, who spoke to the resident yesterday, said the man made it to near his front door, but was struggling to find his way out in the smoke and dark.
The neighbour raced in and got him when he saw him near the front door, Ms Derby said.
‘‘The neighbour has done a great job,’’ she said.
While the house was only three doors from the Barmah fire station, there was nothing firefighters could do to save it.
‘‘When I arrived at the station — I was first here — and it was just a ball (of fire),’’ Barmah brigade third lieutenant Wendy Ross said.
‘‘There was no stopping it.
‘‘It was just a matter of saving everything else around it.’’
Firefighters did manage to save one of the man’s cars, which they pushed out of the fire area, but another was burnt out in a collapsing carport.
‘‘It just went up in a matter of minutes,’’ Ms Derby said.
‘‘There was nothing we could have done.’’
Firefighters were at the station shortly after the alarm was sounded at 11.25pm and the fire truck was being used to put water on the fire before the alarm’s two-minute time span had elapsed.
With the station so close, many of the Barmah firefighters actually ran to the fire.
Picola and Nathalia firefighters, joined with Barmah volunteers to fight the fire, with about 17 firefighters involved.
Their job was made more hazardous with a live powerline that had been connected to the house dangling on the ground.
‘‘It was dark, there was water and live electricity around it (the house),’’ Ms Derby said.
Smoke from the house that was believed to have contained asbestos, also meant firefighters had to keep their distance.
Barmah brigade captain Christina Jackson praised the efforts of her firefighters, with seven turning out to fight the fire.
‘‘It was a good combined effort by the Barmah brigade members and we appreciated the effort of the Picola and Nathalia brigades,’’ she said.
The man was still in Echuca hospital yesterday after suffering smoke inhalation in the fire, but Ms Derby said it was hoped he would be released todaySeveral Barmah residents have offered for the man to stay with them.
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