Squat­ters un­der fire

Car blaze ex­poses unit squalor

The Daily Telegraph (Sydney) - - Drugs Scourge - NICK HANSEN

RES­I­DENTS of a Western Syd­ney hous­ing com­mis­sion block say that for years squat­ters have been liv­ing in their ground-floor garages, where a 4WD burst into flames yes­ter­day.

A mother-of-six found her Toy­ota Kluger well ablaze in the carpark of the com­plex on Sec­ond Ave, Black­town, just be­fore 1am.

“I was asleep and heard a noise … I ran down there and I start cry­ing: ‘My car’,” she told The Daily Tele­graph.

Five peo­ple from the apart­ments above were treated by paramedics for smoke in­hala­tion

NSW Fire and Res­cue crews at­tended to ex­tin­guish the blaze and move the car away from the unit block.

But fire­fight­ers also dis­cov­ered a mat­tress and bar­be­cue were set up in one of the block’s garages amid putrid con­di­tions.

Dozens of cig­a­rette butts could be seen on the ground among bro­ken glass, filthy cloth­ing and take­away food con­tain­ers.

There was a note on the ceil­ing which said: “Be­ing jus­ti­fied by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Je­sus Christ.”

Po­lice con­firmed that peo­ple had been sleep­ing rough in the garage and had been or­dered to move on fol­low­ing the fire.

But res­i­dents said the group had been told to leave many times over the past few years but con­tin­ued to re­turn each time.

A woman liv­ing at the garage’s cor­re­spond­ing unit said the group of young men had per­sis­tently re­turned for two years de­spite re­peated at­tempts to get them out.

“I opened my garage up one day there were 20 of them in there, asleep on the ground … it was putrid,” the woman said.

A spokes­woman for Fam­ily and Com­mu­nity Ser­vices, which over­sees so­cial hous­ing, said that they had been aware of the squat­ter is­sue since last year and were work­ing with po­lice to mon­i­tor the prop­erty.

Pic­tures: Dean Asher

The rem­nants of the car fire in Black­town yes­ter­day and (in­set) the wretched mess found in the garage.

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