Historic homestead gutted by fire

A GRAND old Holbrook homestead built by one of the region’s pioneering families has been gutted by fire.

Fire crews arrived at Kanimbla early on Saturday but the home could not be saved.

Stuart and Fiona Anderson and their two boys, aged 10 and 12, live in the house but were at a polocrosse carnival in Sydney at the time of the fire.

“Our tenant rang us and notified us, it was a bit surreal I suppose,” Mr Anderson said.

“The shock doesn’t set in until you get home.”

The family drove home on Saturday afternoon.

“We’re still not allowed in it but there’s nothing left,” Mr Anderson said.

“One section of the house was untouched, the office and the laundry, which is quite convenient really because it’s got all the paperwork in it.

“We’re hoping to salvage something.”

Mr Anderson and his wife run a mixed grazing enterprise at the property, about 15 kilometres north-east of Holbrook.

“We’re the third and fourth generation living in the home, it was originally a Ross farm and the house was finished in 1928,” he said.

“It was built by the late John Ross, Fiona’s grandfather.”

Mr Anderson said the family were devastated by the loss.

“It’s just dreadful,” he said.

The family were put up free of charge at a Holbrook motel on Saturday night and Mr Anderson said the family had arranged temporary accommodation.

NSW Fire and Rescue from Holbrook and five NSW Rural Fire Service crews attended the fire on Saturday morning.

A tenant in a cottage on Kanimbla called 000 after seeing flames coming from the home about 7.30am but when crews arrived the home was “well past saving”.

NSW Rural Fire Service group officer Murray Cook said the sprawling homestead burnt until about 9am but was still smouldering at midday.

“Because it’s such a big old rabbit warren of a house with rooms everywhere there are sections inside burning that we can’t get at,” he said.

Police are investigating the cause of the fire but it is not believed to be suspicious.

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