House gutted by fire

A WOMAN and her four young children were lucky to escape a fire that quickly gutted their Tweed Heads South home yesterday.

Police are investigating the cause of the fire which raged through the Altair Street house, destroying most of its interior and leaving a gaping hole at the front of the building.

Firefighters received the call just before 3.30pm yesterday, but one firefighter at the scene said it appeared the fire had been going for about 10 minutes before fire crews arrived.

It is understood the fire began in a front room of the house and that the resident and her four young children, plus several others were inside at the time. No-one was injured, but paramedics remained on standby at the scene.

The resident of the house was visibly shaken yesterday, telling the Tweed Daily News she wasn't sure how the fire began.

"I don't know actually," she said. "I just got the kids out real quick."

The woman's sister-in-law said she was worried for the children, but was relieved everyone got out of the house safely.

She too was unsure how the fire began.

"They don't know yet, but it is a pretty old house," she said.

A large crew of firefighters from Tweed Heads and Tweed River stations were on the property yesterday, securing the house and putting out the remaining flames in its roof.

A crowd of neighbouring residents emerged from their houses to watch the drama unfold, despite the wet weather.

"It went up really quick," said a woman who lives across the road from the house. "I couldn't believe it happened so fast. I was in the front room and I saw the glow of the fire."

"It is your worst nightmare," another of the street's residents said.

"The flames just leapt out of the house. We are just glad everyone got out unharmed."

Police at the scene spoke with the resident of the house and her partner, as well as some of their neighbours. Inspector Jim Kain of Tweed/Byron police said police would investigate the cause of the blaze once the house had been secured.

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UPDATE: Health NSW addresses hospital site safety concerns

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