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Fire destroys backpacker hostel, pub in Bundaberg CBD

July 21st, 2020 | | backpacker

A fire has destroyed a popular pub and backpacker hostel in the Queensland town of Bundaberg.

Key points:

  • The cause of the blaze is yet to be determined
  • QFES area commander John Pappas says it’s the biggest fire Bundaberg has seen in some time
  • 60 hostel guests were evacuated unharmed

Authorities said the fire broke out at the Spotted Dog Tavern on Bourbong Street in Bundaberg Central at 11:00pm on Monday, before spreading to the Federal Backpackers hostel next door, destroying both buildings.

Around 40 firefighters worked through the night at the scene, with specialist appliances called in from the Sunshine Coast to help.

Police said all patrons at the pub and 60 hostel guests were safely evacuated and reported no injuries.

Bundaberg pub and backpacker hostel on fire
All pub attendees and hostel guests were evacuated safety and no injuries were reported.(Supplied: Queensland Police)

Police established an exclusion zone around the area overnight and a smoke hazard warning was issued to all nearby residents.

The exclusion zone remains in place and is bound by the Burnett River, Maryborough Street, Woongarra Street and Burrum Street.

Several other people were evacuated from a nearby hotel as a precaution.

The fire has been contained but is still smouldering.

Blackened roof of a backpackers and a pub sign in bundaberg
The fire spread from the Spotted Dog Tavern to the backpackers hostel.(ABC News: Nicole Hegarty)

Emergency crews will stay on scene today to continue dampening down hotspots.

There are fears the facade of the building could collapse and structural engineers will attend the scene to ensure it is safe.

The cause has not yet been determined.

Buildings ‘totally destroyed’

Two fire fighters stand in front of a building on fire
Bundaberg Federal Backpackers hostel was destroyed by the fire.(Supplied: Queensland Ambulance Service)

QFES area commander John Pappas said crews were faced with a “deep seated” blaze and labelled it a “terrible event”.

“It’s one of the biggest fires we’ve seen in the Bundaberg area in some time,” he said.

Mr Pappas said both the pub and hostel were “totally destroyed”.

“It is a total loss,” he said.

“The fire took hold in all levels of the backpackers.” 

Fire truck and ambulance outside a building with a blackened roof
The fire took hold in all levels of the backpackers.(Supplied: Queensland Ambulance Service)

Mr Pappas said every fire had the possibility of being “horrific” and praised the quick actions of the employees.

“Making sure that they did account for all persons and safely evacuate them is what we’ve seen as a successful outcome,” Mr Pappas said.

The evacuated people have been given temporary accommodation organised by the local council and Queensland police.

Most of the visitors were from Vanuatu and some from Europe.

The council is working with embassies to get passports and personal identification for those who lost documentation in the blaze.

Speaking on the Sunshine Coast, Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said fire crews did a tremendous job battling the blaze.

“Thankfully no one was killed and reports are all 62 people are accounted for,” Ms Palaszczuk said.

“But I do want to thank all of the fire crews that attended that scene, I’ve left a message with the Mayor as well.”

Community relieved no lives lost

Bundaberg Mayor Jack Dempsey said the community had their “hearts in our throats” when news first broke of the blaze.

“It was certainly pleasing to see those involved were able to evacuate people safely,” he said.

Councillor Dempsey said seeing such an “iconic building” in ruins was a major loss for the town.

“It certainly strikes at the heart of the community,” he said.

“People will have memories going back over 100 years with these particular buildings.”

Less than a month ago the town marked the twentieth anniversary of the nearby Childers backpacker hostel fire that killed 15 people.

Source: ABC

Sourced by Mike Barrow