MACLEAN Fire Brigade captain Col Barnard strikes a lonely figure as fire crews attempt to bring the blaze under control on Mond
MACLEAN Fire Brigade captain Col Barnard strikes a lonely figure as fire crews attempt to bring the blaze under control on Mond

The long road to recovery


AS the victims of Monday's ferocious fire in Maclean came to terms with the shock of losing their livelihoods and homes, engineers and insurance companies moved in yesterday to start the long road to recovery.

Apart from a handful of damage assessors and onlookers, the usually bustling Maclean CBD was like a ghost town with traffic and pedestrians diverted well away from the River Street fire scene.

A large metal fence had been erected around the five businesses most affected by the devastating blaze.

Four businesses, including Laundry Care, Kazalee's, Cafe Boulevarde and The Little Blue Wren, along with three residential units, were destroyed in the fire.

No-one was allowed within about 10 metres of the site yesterday unless they had permission from WorkCover, which has placed an audit on the site for safety reasons. Yesterday morning the former Cafe Boulevarde building owner, Dale James, met with engineers and insurers to kickstart the cleanup.

It is expected the charred re- mains of the historic block will be demolished within the next few days.

Paul Hennegan, from Wizard Demolition, said that no bulldozing could begin until building owners had received the nod from their insurance companies.

"We should have an answer within the next few days ... and if everything goes to plan, we could have it all down in a day," Mr Hennegan said.

However, the word 'demolition' is enough to bring some of the victims to tears.

Carmell and Graham Sanne lost almost 120 years of family history when the fire gutted the building which housed The Little Blue Wren at 193 River Street.

The historic structure initially belonged to Mr Sanne's grandparents, and has been the home to generations of Sanne family members.

"For us there's so many memories ... and now all the little ties have gone," Mrs Sanne said.

"This will take a while to get over and for now it's time to heal."

Karen McKenna, who ran Kazalee's dancewear and children's clothing store, hung around in Clyde Street until about 1.45pm on Monday, watching as about 50 firies battled to control the blaze.

Ms McKenna lost thousands of dollars worth of dancewear, which she had been accumulating for the past six years.

"With dancewear it's a specialised thing, it's expensive for the general public and for the retailer, and unless you have a lot of money you can't just go out and buy $100,000 worth of stock," she said.

Anne and Les Gibson, who lost everything they owned when their home above The Little Blue Wren went up in smoke, have received generous support from the community and on Monday night were housed at Maclean's Water- view Motel.

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