Family flees California Gully house blaze

A WOMAN and her three young children are lucky to be alive after their California Gully home went up in flames yesterday.

The brick house, at the corner of Oswald Street and Whitfield Court, was gutted by the fire.

Bendigo Fire Station senior station officer Stephen Keating said the woman and her children were in the house when the blaze started about 11.30am.

“I believe the female occupant was having a shower at the time the fire was first noticed by the family,” he said.

“The fire took hold fairly quickly.

“It was lucky she and the kids took the correct actions and got out straight away rather than trying to put it out.

“All in all they were very lucky.”

There were concerns yesterday for the family’s cat, but Mr Keating said firefighters had not found any remains in the house.

“Cats are difficult because they get out quickly but can become aloof,” he said.

“So it might be a few days before it comes back.”

Mr Keating said the woman and her children were waiting outside the home with neighbours when firefighters arrived at the scene about 11.45am. 

Police closed the street to traffic while neighbours milled around on their nature strips watching the commotion. A neighbour told the Bendigo Advertiser she ran out into the street after hearing a woman screaming for help.

Six fire trucks attended the blaze, which rendered the house “beyond 

economically repairable”. 

“The family was distressed but there were no injuries or anything, which was good,” Mr Keating said.

“The firefight wasn’t overly difficult, but it took a good 15 or 20 minutes of high activity to bring under control.”

Mr Keating said the cause of the fire was still being investigated but it could have been started by clothing placed too close to a heater.

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