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A body has been found in the burnt out remains of a North Willoughby house following a devastating fire on Saturday morning, with engineers expected to work into the night to stabilise the home with fears it could collapse onto adjoining properties.
Thick, acrid smoke and the sound of a person’s screams alerted neighbours to the blaze at the Hollywood Crescent property in Sydney’s lower north shore on Saturday morning.
At least 12 Fire and Rescue NSW trucks carrying 40 firefighters rushed to the property about 9.30am and were confronted by the ferocious fire.
NSW Police said officers attached to North Shore Police Area Command were in attendance.Credit: Nine
It took the firefighters more than an hour to control the blaze, attacking it from four sides and extinguishing it several hours later. It was hoped that structural engineers would have been able to make the property safe to enter before nightfall. But the operation became protracted as neighbouring properties came under threat of damage from the collapsing four-bedroom home.
“Engineers are on site trying to establish structural integrity to allow Fire and Rescue (officers) to look at the cause of the fire and to see if anything is in there,” Fire and Rescue NSW Superintendent Conrad Walsh said.
“They can’t enter until it’s safe.”
At 9pm, a NSW Police spokesperson confirmed a body had been located inside the property, but that it had yet to be formally identified.
The spokesperson said the cause of the blaze was unknown and police would prepare a report for the coroner.
Joyce Lewis and her husband David have lived in their North Willoughby home for many years.
Neighbour Dani Guerrera said she was cleaning her backyard when she smelt smoke and was alerted to the blaze.
“I knew it wasn’t a barbecue, I could see black smoke, and it was an awful smell, so I sprinted towards the smoke and I could hear screams for help,” she told the Herald.
Guerrera said David and Joyce Lewis had lived in the home “for many years” and were “a lovely family” who would always “honk and wave” to neighbours in the street.
She told the Herald David Lewis was interstate for work and the couple’s two daughters were overseas, but that they were all making their way home after being contacted by neighbours.
The house fire in North Willoughby on Saturday.Credit: Fire & Rescue NSW/Supplied
A firefighter burnt his hand as he tried to access the second storey. He was treated at the scene by paramedics and taken to Royal North Shore Hospital for further treatment.
The property is about 200 metres from Fire and Rescue NSW’s Willoughby fire station.
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