BY ADRIAN MILLER
A FIRE broke out in the Soldier's Memorial Hall at Iluka on Saturday night after a 21st birthday party was gatecrashed by around 60 people.
The fire began after revellers allegedly broke into the ticket office of the hall and set alight boxes in the office which contained antiques and priceless mementos. Iluka History Group coordinator Lenore Corfe said it was amazing the hall was not reduced to rubble.
"They set fire to one box, completely destroying it and how the hall never went up, God only knows," she said.
Mrs Corfe said she could not believe how much destruction the fire caused.
"In the box that was burnt all that was left was the base, the rest of it was burnt and in it was a silver wine carafe that was melted," she said.
"I don't know if they had put any accelerant on it, but there was nothing in the box that would make a fire that fierce."
Mrs Corfe said eight boxes had been damaged, although most of the contents were salvageable.
One Iluka resident, who did not want to be named, said the area around the hall had been trashed.
"The smell in the hall, they haven't cleaned that up properly," the person said.
"There's beer bottles and stuff outside, tables are outside still and there's rubbish out the front of the hall, and they broke some chairs.
"They just didn't care, they ran amok."
Another resident, who also wished to remain anonymous, believed problems arose because no adults were present at the party. "They were given the rules and regulations of what had to happen, including adult supervision, but it doesn't seem like they had it," the resident said.
Damage was not restricted to the hall, with Iluka residents claiming once the celebrations finished, party-goers allegedly proceeded through the town destroying signs and guide posts, and smashing bottles and windows.
But one party-goer denied there were problems, claiming police were there and kept everything under control.
"It was never really out of hand and there was never any big blues or anything that I saw," the party-goer said.
"Cops were there for at least an hour or two. They were there from 9pm onwards and kept coming to the door and looking in, and if anyone strayed away from the party they would keep going to get them."