Authorities confirm fire ‘not suspicious’

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FOUL play has been ruled out in a fire that threatened to destroy a cabinet-making business on Gateway Island.

Nine firefighting tankers from both sides of the Border rushed to the Weatherall Masonry site on the Lincoln Causeway, where the business is based, about 3pm on Saturday as fire raged at the back of the site.

The blaze had already spread to the front half of a shed housing the cabinet-making business.

Yesterday Wodonga CFA operations officer Adrian Gutsche said workers from the business used a front-end loader to pull apart burning wood piles while firefighters battled to save the equipment and machinery inside.

“We were able to contain the fire to that part of the building,” he said.

“Grass behind the site also caught alight but we were able to stop that just before the walking and cycling track along the Murray River.

“We believe the fire started in one of the nearby wood piles — there was timber and sawdust in the area — we don’t consider it suspicious.

“But we pulled the piles apart to suppress the fire and that now makes it near impossible to determine the exact cause of the fire.”

Wodonga couple Robert and Jackie Partridge were among about 50 people on Gateway Island as firefighters attacked the blaze.

“We were going up to Maccas near Bunnings when we saw the smoke and we’d thought we’d come have a look,” Mrs Partidge said.

“We couldn’t believe it. It was pretty intense.”

Mr Patridge said the flames were as high as the gum trees that back onto the property.

Yesterday the burnt piles of wood continued to smoulder, a building at the front of the cabinet-making business was gutted, the roof partially collapsed.

Some antique carts in the yard were destroyed, others left damaged.

Police yesterday confirmed they were not investigating the cause of the blaze.

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