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Golf club fire in Cranbourne
At 12.50pm on Monday 14 September Cranbourne and Langwarrin brigades were paged for a report of a roof fire at Amstel Golf Club in Cranbourne.
The venue had recently undergone renovations and extensions to include a gaming lounge, bistro, sports bar, dining rooms, function rooms and locker rooms, which provides employment for over 50 members of the local community.
Further information from VicFire en-route advised of a number of calls being received and the evacuation of 60+ patrons was in progress. Cranbourne Pumper arrived at 12.54pm and found thick smoke and flames issuing from a 20m section of roofline and façade at the entrance to the club. The fire was being fanned by a strong northerly wind which was pushing the fire directly into the roof space of the bistro and gaming areas of the venue. (A nearby BOM automated weather station at the time of the fire recorded wind speeds as 45kph with gusts of 61kph)
Due to the size of the premise, the large-scale evacuation in progress and the strong wind pushing the fire through the roof space, an escalation of 4 x Pumpers and 1 Aerial Appliance was made on arrival.
An aggressive internal attack commenced immediately with the objective being to stop the fire in the roof space spreading any further into the venue, whilst ensuring all patrons and staff were evacuated as soon as possible.
Internal attack crews were confronted with a well developed fire within the roof, falling plasterboard and burning debris, but managed to successfully slow then stop the fire spread through the roof before being able to concentrate on extinguishing other areas already burning inside the building and on the external façade.
A primary search of the venue confirmed that all patrons and staff had been evacuated safely to the adjoining practice fairways, and management were praised for their swift action and safe evacuation which resulted in no injuries and everyone getting outside safely.
Crew from Langwarrin Pumper arrived shortly afterwards and provided BA wearers and continued the fire attack of the roof area via a ladder until the aerial appliance en-route from Dandenong arrived. The crew from Narre Warren Pumper supplied BA wearers to assist with the internal attack and were also given the task of managing the ventilation of the remainder of the venue once the fire had been sufficiently knocked down. The crew of the fourth pumper (Skye) stood by on scene with extra BA wearers in case changeovers or additional wearers were required and also provided local area coverage until a move-up appliance could be organised.
Once on scene, the Dandenong Ladder Platform was used to douse remaining hotspots and areas not accessible by ground crews, and also to check for further fire extension through the roof area.
By Tuesday, insurance assessors estimated the damage bill to be around $200,000, and a cause is yet to be officially released by fire investigators.
Given the rapid spread of the fire from the initial 000 call, the strong northerly wind pushing the fire deeper through the roof space into the building and the exposures and fuel loads that existed in the gaming lounge and bistro areas, it was a fantastic result to stop the fire spread where it was and prevent a $200,000 fire from becoming a $2million+ fire that would have had a significant and long term financial impact on the owners, operators, employees and local community.
A quick response time (four minutes from page to arriving on scene), the efficient and effective suppression activities undertaken on arrival followed by invaluable support by crews from neighbouring brigades who provided essential manpower and suppression assistance in knocking down the fire and conducting a thorough overhaul ensured that over 50 employees kept their jobs and livelihood, and that the operators could re-opened certain sections of venue generating income and contributing to the local economy the following day.
An outstanding result for the community, and a credit to the crews who responded and performed exceptionally well during the event.