BY the time Mauro Taverna found his phone and dialled 000, his home of 15 years was fully engulfed by fire and unsaveable.
“It was incredible,” Mr Taverna said of the blaze which occurred Thursday evening.
“In just five or 10 minutes, the whole southern end of the house had flared up and was raging, it was a goner.”
Mr Taverna had been working in his back shed and peered out the door to see if his wife Sandy had arrived home from work when he saw the fire.
“I vaguely heard the smoke alarm, but that didn’t really register until I saw an orange glow through a gap in the blinds,” he said.
“I darted into the kitchen to get my phone from the charger and just as I got there I could hear the hallway collapse and glass windows smashing everywhere.
“I grabbed a box of medicines that we had, the phone charger and got out of there.”
Mr Taverna said it had been cold and raining, so he had lit both the home’s two coonara wood heaters, plus a third one in his shed.
“I’m not sure, but I’m guessing the fire started from the fire in the second loungeroom – it took hold so incredibly quickly.”
Camperdown CFA acting captain Danny Gordon said the brigade was called to the scene at 6.40pm.
“We sent a pumper, tanker and Forward Command Vehicle but the house was well and truly alight when we got there,” he said.
“It was blazing from one end of the house to the other and the flames were right up through the roof and leaping as high as the nearby power lines.
“There was no chance to save anything – the fire was too intense and the structure was too unsafe.”
However, as fortune would have it, several Camperdown CFA members were able to peel off a section of the home’s outside hardiplank cladding to access a disused firebox where the Taverna’s kept a box of photo albums.
Act Capt Gordon said eight CFA units attended the scene including two from Camperdown, two from Cobden and one each from Cobden, Tesbury, Weerite, Chocolyn, Bookaar and Boorcan.
“Being located outside the town boundaries, there was no readily accessible water points,” he said.
“The other tankers were used to ferry the water to us.
“We were also able to take advantage of the Cobden brigade’s Thermal Imaging Camera to zero in on hotspots.
“We managed to bring the blaze under control at about 7.20pm but remained at the scene mopping up until about midnight.”
Apart from the box of photo albums saved, Mrs Taverna said the couple had lost everything except the clothes on their backs and whatever was on the clothesline at the time.
“We’ve been truly overwhelmed with support,” she said.
“It’s only the next morning and we’ve already been contacted by St Vinnies, the Red Cross and the Department of Human Services.
“We don’t really know what will happen next, it’s all a big shock.”
CFA investigators were expected to examine the scene later Friday in an effort to confirm a cause of the blaze.