Fire Incident (Cathedral Place H Block)

SURVIVORS have told of being plucked from a burning building within H block of Cathedral Place yesterday afternoon (09th June 2013) as fire raged behind them.

A man and two women were rescued from a top balcony of the Cathedral Place apartments in Fortitude Valley and an unconscious woman was pulled down the stairs by a resident before being helped by paramedics.

The three women were taken to the Royal Brisbane and Women’s Hospital.

Hundreds of residents were evacuated from the fire that broke out about 5pm causing millions of dollars damage.

 

Chris Mancini, one of the people pulled from the burning building, was asleep when his roommates began banging on his door in a panic.

“My housemates started smashing on the door yelling ‘wake up, wake up’ . . . and when we opened the door the corridor was full of black smoke,” the shift worker said.

“I called triple zero because one of the girls had passed out – the whole apartment was filled with black smoke and we couldn’t see anything.”

People being rescued as fire breaks out in Cathedral Place complex in Fortitude Valley. Picture: Brittany Vonow

Massive fire in Cathedral High Rise in fortitude Valley in Brisbane. Picture: Steve Pohlner

The 22-year-old said he had no idea how the fire, which started in the apartment next door to his home, broke out.

“It was crazy – between me waking up there was no smoke in my room and within 10 minutes . . . it was pitch black.”

The group took refuge on their top-level balcony and were rescued by fire crews.

Thick smoke enveloped the surrounding streets and parks, with hundreds of onlookers warned by firefighters to stay away.

Two blocks – G and H – were severely affected by the fire.

Rory Lucken moved into the unit block 10 days ago and had his nephew Alexander and mother Lyn Lucken visiting for the first time when the fire broke out.

“We heard the fire alarm and some thumping around . . . then saw the flames.”

Queensland Fire and Rescue acting chief superintendent Stephen Smith said all residents were extremely lucky.

“On arrival the evacuation was in progress and three people were calling from one of the units indicating they were unable to escape,” he said.

“An aerial appliance was put into action and retrieved all three.”

Supt Smith said a resident managed to drag a young woman, found unconscious, to safety down the fire stairs.

“She’s an extremely lucky lady,” he said.

Supt Smith was unable to comment on speculation that the fire had been started by a drug lab explosion.

Massive fire in Cathederal Place apartment building in Fortitude Valley in Brisbane

Massive fire in Cathedral Place apartment building in Fortitude Valley in Brisbane. Picture: Marc Robertson

The blaze raged for about two hours before fire crews managed to bring it under control.

Last night they were dampening down hot spots.

Emergency accommodation was set up for unit residents at the PCYC and Boystown.

Others were going to stay with family and friends.

Fire crews were expected to remain at the scene throughout the night, with the apartment block not expected to be reopened for several weeks.

QFRS commissioner Lee Johnson said he was extremely proud of the more than 50 fire fighters who had responded.

Police minister Jack Dempsey said the fire was a timely reminder for every resident to double check their fire alarms.

People being rescued as fire breaks out in Cathedral Place complex in Fortitude Valley. Picture: Brittany Vonow

Massive fire in Cathedral High Rise in fortitude Valley in Brisbane. Picture: Steve Pohlner

 

ROLLING COVERAGE AS THE FIRE UNFOLDED ON SUNDAY NIGHT

7.20pm: Authorities say about 50 firefighters are still at the scene of the blaze, dampening down all hot spots and finalising searches of the units.

A total of 15 fire trucks and three aerial ladder pumpers were on hand to fight the fire

Three females suffering from smoke inhalation were treated at the scene and transported to the Royal Brisbane Women’s Hospital. One male was treated at the scene.

 

6.45pm: THE residents of the block of apartments destroyed by fire have been told temporary accommodation will be set up at the PCYC.

Plans are currently being made for a voluntary evacuation centre for affected residents.

Police have said there are no reports of anyone being unaccounted for but have warned of delays in the area tonight.

Ann Street remains closed to all traffic from Gipps Street and motorists travelling from the city to Fortitude Valley have been asked to avoid Turbot and Wickham Streets.

 

Massive fire in Cathederal Place apartment building in Fortitude Valley in Brisbane

Massive fire in Cathedral Place apartment building in Fortitude Valley in Brisbane. Reader picture: Brigette Sheen

6.40pm: Fire crews are still pumping water into apartments with flames still visible.

Crews in breathing apparatus’ are conducting searches on the lower floors while colleagues on the top floors continue to work on the fire.

 

6.30pm: WORRIED residents have been told they will not be able to access their building for the rest of the night.

Those living in G and H blocks – believed to be totally destroyed by fire – have been told they will have to stay with family or friends tonight.

Rory Lucken moved into an apartment two levels down from where the fire started just 10 days ago.

Cathedral Place complex in Fortitude Valley Brisbane

Massive fire in Cathedral Place complex in Fortitude Valley in Brisbane. Picture: Marc Robertson

“We were just watching some TV – my family had come to see my new apartment for the first time,” he said.

“We heard the alarms and just thought it was a drill.”

It wasn’t until he, his mother Lyn Lucken and nephew Alexander Lucken, got outside that they realised how bad the fire was.

He has now gathered with others from H block, watching fire crews pour water into the apartment block.

 

6pm: THE top floor of a block in the Cathedral Place apartment complex has been ravaged by fire and is still well involved.

People being rescued as fire breaks out in Cathedral Place complex in Fortitude Valley. Picture: Brittany Vonow

Fire at Cathedral place. Picture: Steve Pohlner

The blaze is still burning with crews blasting water from two cherry pickers to reach the fire.

There are two teams in the building working to suppress the fire while two aerial teams work battle the blaze from above.

There are a further two teams searching the floor below.

Bottles of water are being handed out to onlookers.

 

5.55pm: A YOUNG man has told of his terror being awoken by his roommates screams.

Chris Mancini lives in the apartment next to where the fire broke out and said within 10 minutes they were trapped.

Cathedral Place complex in Fortitude Valley Brisbane

Massive fire in Cathedral Place complex in Fortitude Valley in Brisbane. Picture: Marc Robertson

“I was sleep because I work night shift and my roommate started banging on my door and screaming,” he said.

The 22-year-old said he and his roommates tried to collect their things quickly but by the time they opened their door the smoke was too thick.

“I thought we could put something over our mouths and run to the fire escape but it was too thick,” he said.

He then rang emergency services and he and his roommates were forced to wait until a cherrypicker rescued them from the top level.

“It was pretty scary,” Mr Mancini said.

The building, on the corner of Anne and Gotha Streets in the Fortitude Valley, is still being contained.

Thick black smoke is still pouring from the building.

People being rescued as fire breaks out in Cathedral Place complex in Fortitude Valley.

People being rescued as fire breaks out in Cathedral Place complex in Fortitude Valley. Picture: Brittany Vonow

 

5.50pm: A caretaker of the building has said every room was door-knocked to make sure everyone was safe.

It was briefed a group of worried residents and said it was believed no one was still inside.

The fire is still raging.

“G block” which is next door to the building on fire has been cleared by fire crews.

 

People being rescued as fire breaks out in Cathedral Place complex in Fortitude Valley

People being rescued as fire breaks out in Cathedral Place complex in Fortitude Valley. Picture: Brittany Vonow

5.45pm: A Department of Community Safety spokeswoman said there are multiple rescues underway by fire fighters in breathing apparatus.

Two cherry-picker style rescue vehicles are assisting with evacuations.

One female has been taken to the Royal Brisbane and Women’s Hospital with an “altered level of consciousness”.

Others are still being assessed on the scene.

 

THE public is gathering in a park across the road from the complex.

Worried residents are being briefed by an official.

People being rescued as fire breaks out in Cathedral Place complex in Fortitude Valley

People being rescued as fire breaks out in Cathedral Place complex in Fortitude Valley. Picture: Brittany Vonow

At this stage the fire has been contained to the G-H block of the apartments.

Other blocks including F, D and A are all safe.

Fire crews are being managed from a staging area on Ann Street

 

5.30pm: There are major disruptions to inner city traffic with Gipps Street, the Story Bridge and Ann Street all affected by road closures.

 

People being rescued as fire breaks out in Cathedral Place complex in Fortitude Valley. Picture: Brittany Vonow

Fire at Cathedral place. Picture: Nine News

5.25pm: ONLOOKERS have told of a woman being pulled from an apartment block in her swimming suit with several others also pulled to safety.

It is believed two security guards rushed into the building to save a number of people before fire crews arrived.

The blaze is still going with more than ten fire trucks on scene.

Mubin Haider, who lives in the building opposite, said he saw thick flames and smoke issue from the building.

“I thought it could have been a barbecue left on but then it got so much bigger,” he said.

“The flames ruptured through a couple of the buildings.

“Two girls were pulled out with really bad smoke inhalation.”

Another woman was concerned, telling fire crews she had left her gas on.

 

5.20pm: ONLOOKERS have been warned the fire has potentially harmful properties.

Police crews are attempting to move the large crowds from the building, which is still issuing large amounts of smoke.

“It’s thick, it’s burning my eyes at the moment, I can’t see any more than 20 metres in front of me,” onlooker Matt Baker said.

“I saw it from one of the floors-I saw some smoke and the place on fire.

We had binoculars and watched some people being taken away on stretchers-they were sitting up though so they looked okay.”

 

5.15pm: One person has been transported to hospital while more remain unaccounted for.

Ann Street is closed while fire crews battle the blaze.

 

5.06pm: Fire crews are using aerial equipment to reach those stranded on their balconies.

It is understood crews have already rescued three people.

Eight fire crews and a number of ambulances are at the scene where over 300 people have been evacuated.

The origin of the fire remains unknown.

The complex runs between Ann and Wickham Streets not far from the Valley entertainment precinct.

 

4.55pm: FIRE crews are battling a major blaze in an inner-city apartment complex.

The fire broke out at Cathedral Place apartments on Gotha Street shortly after 4.30pm.

A Department of Community Safety spokeswoman said a number of people are trapped above the 4th floor fire.

Fire crews are attempting to free people from the apartment complex with aerial equipment.