Fam­ily’s house de­stroyed in blaze,

Fam­ily all set to fly to Or­lando be­fore home de­stroyed by fire

The Press and Journal (Inverness) - - FRONT PAGE - BY JAMIE MCKEN­ZIE

“There were flames and black smoke com­ing through the roof”

A High­land fam­ily get­ting ready for a dream trip to Dis­ney World woke up to a night­mare yes­ter­day af­ter a fire broke out at their home.

An­thony and Louise Smith and their three chil­dren, of Conon Bridge, were all packed and ready to fly to Or­lando on Thurs­day.

But they were wo­ken shortly be­fore 8.30am yes­ter­day by the “loud bangs” of ex­plod­ing gas can­nis­ters in their garage ex­ten­sion.

Twenty-two fire­fight­ers spent four hours bat­tling the flames, which have com­pletely de­stroyed the garage and left the house “in­hab­it­able” due to “ex­ten­sive smoke dam­age.”

It is un­der­stood that another three lo­cal chil­dren had been stay­ing overnight as part of a sleep­over at the two-storey home in the vil­lage’s Beinn View.

All oc­cu­pants man­aged to es­cape the blaze un­hurt.

Mr and Mrs Smith were too up­set to speak fol­low­ing the event yes­ter­day but thanked the emer­gency ser­vices for their ef­forts to con­tain the fire to their garage.

Neigh­bour and Ding­wall and Seaforth coun­cil­lor Alis­ter Mack­in­non said he con­soled the cou­ple yes­ter­day morn­ing, adding: “I was up and heard the loud bangs and looked out the win­dow and saw the fire en­gines com­ing. The noise was com­ing from the gas can­is­ters as they started ex­plod­ing.

“The ex­plo­sions pre­vented the fire­men get­ting to the source of the fire. The safety of the fire of­fi­cers is al­ways of para­mount im­por­tance. Their ef­fi­ciency was ab­so­lutely mag­nif­i­cent and they dealt with it in a very pro­fes­sional man­ner.

“There were flames com­ing through the roof and a lot of black smoke was com­ing out. There is ex­ten­sive smoke dam­age in­side the house. It’s in­hab­it­able. They had all of their be­long­ings packed away for go­ing on hol­i­day to Or­lando on Thurs­day.

“Mer­ci­fully, they all man­aged to get out of the house. If it had hap­pened dur­ing the night I hate to think what might have hap­pened.”

The cause of the fire has not been con­firmed but Mr Mack­in­non was told by Mr Smith that it may have been an elec­tri­cal fault in a deep freezer ca­ble.

A mo­tor home parked in the fam­ily’s drive­way also ap­peared to have been badly dam­aged from the heat of the flames.

In­ci­dent com­man­der Alex McKin­ley, an on­call duty of­fi­cer, praised his crew for “work­ing tire­lessly” to con­tain the “well-de­vel­oped” fire to the garage area.

He said: “The fam­ily woke up to the fire and some camp­ing can­is­ters pop­ping in the garage. They got out and called 999. They were all ac­counted for and no one was hurt. The cause of the fire is un­known.”

A to­tal of 22 fire­fight­ers – six wear­ing breath­ing ap- para­tus – used two main jets and two house reel jets to ex­tin­guish the flames.

Three fire ap­pli­ances – two from Ding­wall and one from Beauly – were joined by a height ap­pli­ance from In­ver­ness.

The garage was left com­pletely black­ened fol­low­ing the blaze and was still smoul­der­ing at about 12.30pm yes­ter­day.

Po­lice were also at the scene and spoke with the Mr and Mrs Smith and their neigh­bours.

HOUSE BLAZE: The fam­ily were wo­ken by the sound of ex­plod­ing gas can­nis­ters in their garage ex­ten­sion

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