FIREYS PRAISED AFTER LA TROBE TCE BLAZE

Nearby build­ings spared

Geelong Advertiser - - FRONT PAGE - JA­COB GRAMS

A DANCE teacher has praised the ef­forts of fire­fight­ers to save his­toric build­ings sur­round­ing a meet­ing hall gut­ted by fire on Satur­day.

CFA crews re­sponded at 1.53pm to a fire on La Trobe Tce that had many passers-by fear­ing a pop­u­lar dance stu­dio was go­ing up in flames.

But fire­fight­ers were able to con­tain the blaze, which was un­der con­trol by 2.15pm, to a 3m x 12m meet­ing room ad­ja­cent the main hall, while an­other hall used by a snooker club was also un­scathed.

La Trobe Tce was tem­po­rar­ily closed while the blaze was brought un­der con­trol, caus­ing havoc for week­end traf­fic.

It is un­der­stood an­other com­mu­nity group had used the meet­ing hall ear­lier in the day.

Fire in­ves­ti­ga­tors were on the scene on Satur­day, but are not treat­ing it as sus­pi­cious.

U-Can Dance Ball­room co­or­di­na­tor Mar­got Louttit said it was a re­lief to see fire­fight­ers keep the dam­age to a min­i­mum.

“They needed to check my dance stu­dio to see if any em­bers had got across to the dance school … but the only key to it was in the room that burnt down,” she said.

“It’s such a mess in there. It’s amaz­ing just to see the dev­as­ta­tion. It re­ally brings home to me about all the poor peo­ple who lose their houses in fires.”

Ms Louttit said fire­fight­ers told her the fact it hap­pened dur­ing the day in such a high­traf­fic spot en­sured the three crews were able to douse the fire so quickly.

Con­nie Ganino was trav­el­ling past the scene at the time and was part of a flurry of so­cial me­dia com­men­tary over the in­ter­est­ing past of the dance stu­dio.

“When my Dad came from Italy in the 1960s, all the young Ital­ians used to go there and dance,” she said. “A lot of peo- ple have used it for all dif­fer­ent ac­tiv­i­ties. It’s great news that it’s been saved. Too many old build­ing in Gee­long are get­ting de­stroyed.”

Ms Louttit said many of her clients had flash­backs when they en­tered her stu­dio, some even re­call­ing a young John Farn­ham per­form­ing Sadie the Clean­ing Lady in an or­ange suit at the venue.

Pic­tures: CAM WARD, AYR­TON GANINO

Fire­fight­ers bat­tle flames at the La Trobe Tce hall on Satur­day.

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