Firefighters battle the blaze on Monday.                    Photo: DEBRAH NOVAK.
Firefighters battle the blaze on Monday. Photo: DEBRAH NOVAK.

Boulevarde of broken dreams

By SALLY GORDON

sally.gordon@dailyexaminer.com.au

THERE were many heroes and countless courageous deeds performed during the day-long battle to control Monday's tragic fire that gutted parts of Maclean's historic River Street precinct.

But if it had not been for the quick thinking of the Clarence Valley Council mayor, Ian Tiley, the devastation could have been worse.

At 9.20am on Monday, Cr Tiley parked his car on River Street to drop off a Lawrence Rodeo cheque to the president of the sports council, Jim Simmons, at Hamilton Simmons and Company.

By the time Cr Tiley came out of the accounting office at 9.30am, there were massive tongues of fire roaring out of the first floor balcony above the Little Blue Wren store.

"I came out and I heard this noise and there was a roaring flame above me," he said.

"I ran the length of the street and bashed on every door and yelled 'fire, fire everyone get out, get out'.

"People were just sitting at their desks, oblivious to it."

And although the mayor said he was simply 'doing what anyone else would do in the circumstance', it probably helped that he had 17 years' experience as a local fire controller in the Hunter Valley.

"I knew it was an old building, it was fully alight and there wasn't much time," he said.

Meanwhile, Cr Tiley and the council have endorsed Clarence MP Steve Cansdell's request for State Government financial assistance.

Mr Cansdell has asked the NSW Premier, Morris Iemma, to 'declare the historic precinct a state of emergency and provide every form of assistance to businesses and residents directly affected by the event'.

In addition, two Lower River residents will hold a 'River Street fire victims fundraiser auction night' on March 25 to help residents who lost their homes in Monday's blaze.



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