Numurkah Leader, 28 February: A FIRE that destroyed a house in Numurkah on Friday afternoon was caused by an electrical fault, police say.
The fire, at 24 Pinnuck St, started at around 1.40 pm and was attended by eight firefighting units, which took about 20 minutes to control it.
After investigating the possibility of an arson attack, police concluded the property’s wiring was to blame.
Joe Stephens, 35, who lived alone at the public housing property, had “just ducked down the street to get some groceries” and was coming out of the IGA supermarket when he saw fire trucks go past and heard the siren go off.
When he arrived home 5 minutes later, he saw the house he had lived in for five years engulfed in flames.
“It was just way too hot to go close to it,” said Mr Stephens, who said he felt “heartbroken” about losing his possessions, particularly photos of his children.
“I’m not sure exactly what’s gone but whatever’s left is probably ruined,” he said.
Detective Sergeant Marcus Boyd from Cobram Crime Investigation Unit said a neighbour on their way to work had called emergency services after seeing flames coming from the house.
Three CFA trucks from Numurkah were first to arrive at the scene and called in another five tankers from neighbouring towns and also Shepparton’s aerial pumper.
A helicopter which was circling overhead wasn’t part of the emergency services response, police and firefighters said.
It is believed it was a private craft that happened to be in the area and spotted the smoke.
“I heard the helicopter circling, and it wasn’t a police chopper, it was a normal helicopter,” said Ryan Moedt, 42, whose house is diagonally opposite Mr Stephens’.
“I looked out the window and saw the black smoke and let my sister know and we both came out and had a look”.
Police said it appeared the house would need to be demolished.
They praised the work of firefighters in containing the blaze.