Police will investigate a fire which destroyed a home in Tongala on Thursday night.By Monique Preston
Police believe a fire which destroyed a home in Tongala’s main street on Thursday night was deliberately lit.
The fire destroyed a weatherboard home attached to the back of a former shop in Mangan St.
The brick front section, which is used as part of the house, was smoke damaged.
Echuca Crime Investigation Unit Detective Senior Constable Jason Hare said fire investigators believed the cause of the fire was suspicious as they investigated on Friday.
‘‘A person was seen running down the street before the house caught ablaze,’’ he said.
‘‘It’s yet to be determined if it is linked.’’
Det. Sen. Constable Hare said witnesses told police they could smell diesel, but police were also yet to determine whether this was the case.
He said the fire started at the back of the house and gutted this section.
Firefighters were called to the blaze at 9.50pm, but by the time the first of them arrived minutes later, the house was well alight.
Tongala Fire Brigade captain Dave Wright was first to the fire, collecting the fire truck from the fire station three doors away before most of the other firefighters arrived on foot.
My Wright said 30 to 35 firefighters from Tongala, Echuca, Kyabram and Girgarre brigades took about 40 minutes to an hour to control the fire.
This included six who donned breathing apparatus, with four going inside the building and two working from the roof of the shop next door to put water on the flames.
It was three hours before Mr Wright and his crew made it back to their own beds.
However, their sleep was short-lived, with a Tongala fire crew back at the scene at 6am to put out the last of the fire and check areas that had been hard to see in the dark the night before.
‘‘We got to a point last night (Thursday) where it was too dark and unsafe to go inside,’’ Mr Wright said.
Police manned the scene for the night and kept guard all day Friday until the fire investigators arrived.
Mr Wright said the fire had been left to smoulder overnight, before it could be completely extinguished in the daylight.
‘‘We were back at 6am because we couldn’t gain access through the roof,’’ he said.
‘‘We needed the daylight to make sure everything was okay,’’ he said.
‘‘(On Friday morning) we removed weatherboards from the east wall and removed the ridge capping on the roof to make sure it was out.’’
Det. Sen. Constable Hare said the house had people living in it, but there was no-one in it at the time of the fire.
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