UPDATE 5:30PM SATURDAY:
Strong winds have caused a minor flare-up at the St John’s orphanage.
One NSW Fire and Rescue unit comprising four personnel is on scene.
Goulburn station officer Darrell Law described it as a “small smouldering re-ignition.”
“It’s in an inaccessible area because a wall has come down,” he said.
“We can’t get too close with the wind (behaving erratically). We’re putting as much water on it as we can.”
Building owner John Ferrara advised the Brigade of this and an earlier flare-up in a rear hall, which burnt two weeks ago.
Mr Ferrara was on site this afternoon but did not wish to comment.
UPDATE 5PM SATURDAY:
There’s been a steady stream of people visiting the old St John’s orphanage today.
Many are lamenting the wholesale damage to one of Goulburn’s heritage gems.
Neighbour Phil Phelps also watched Thursday night’s fire in building’s second storey.
“I was worried all the time about a second fire,” he said.
“It was so scary. I thought it could spread to my house.”
Mr Phelps has lived in Glebe St for 11 years and said the old orphanage was “intact” when he moved there.
He was an unofficial caretaker, hunting away the ‘constant stream’ of people, many of them children, breaking into the vacant former boys home.
“It’s a shame to see the building go the way it did,” he said.
“It’s Goulburn’s heritage. My auntie married one of the boys who lived there.”
Mundy Street resident Christine Hughes first saw the flames erupting at 9.30pm. The roof exploded soon after.
“I couldn’t believe it was happening again,” she said.
“The night before I stood on the corner of Mundy and Cowper Streets and watched it go up.
“It’s sad to think that such an old building could be vandalised so much. Something should have been done before this.
“It’s (also) sad for the people who lived there. Now they just have the memories.”
The old St John’s orphanage had a haunted appearance as a fire crew returned to the scene on Saturday.
NSW Fire and Rescue’s Goulburn Deputy Captain Kerri Borchard and her team had two late nights fighting fires at the historic building.
But they were back at 8.30am Saturday, ensuring hot spots were doused and strong wind didn’t whip up any more outbreaks.
“There was an area last night we just couldn’t get to but from the courtyard we could access one of the far side rooms where fire was burning,” Ms Borchard said.
“We poured copious amounts of water on it.”
Some 50 firefighters from Goulburn, the Southern Highlands, Crookwell and Canberra finally extinguished most of the blaze at 2am. The ACT Fire and rescue aerial appliance had proved critical. But when wind picked up in the early morning, it pulled out due to safety risk.
Ms Borchard said crew defensively fought the blaze from outside due to internal structural hazards.
They handed the scene over for police investigation on Friday night.
Meantime, Ms Borchard has stressed that people should ring triple zero to report fires. People had been contacting the Goulburn station direct, which in turn delayed their response by taking the calls.
- Read more:
- Explosive nights
- ‘Only a matter of time’
- November 6
- Council acts after St John’s fire
- St John’s orphanage fire in photos
- November 4
- Orphanage burns again | Photos
- St John’s orphanage on fire again
- Blaze destroys community heart, heritage
- Orphanage owner lost for words
- Smoking out concerns
- November 3
- Another St John’s fire | Photos
- Doherty laments St John’s fire
- St John’s orphanage on fire