THE tenant of a Lavington house destroyed in a suspicious fire yesterday morning apparently didn’t know for hours that her home had been burning.
While authorities tried to contact the tenant — Chantelle Breen, a mother of three — firefighters wearing gas masks battled to contain the “intense” fire that gutted the house in Highview Crescent and collapsed the red-tiled roof.
The family had been out at the time.
Neighbour Maddison Heath could smell smoke when she woke about 8am but it was another hour before Tim Doherty, who lives across the road, called triple-0 when he saw smoke.
“I went and had a shower and when I walked out someone was banging on my window telling me to get out,” Ms Heath said.
A neighbour on the other side of the destroyed home, Micky Akash, got home from working at Domino’s about 3am.
He noticed the tenant’s car in the driveway about 5.30am — just before he went to sleep — but said it had gone when the fire brigade arrived about 9.30am.
Mr Akash said he knew the young family, who had only moved in a few months earlier.
“The smallest kid used to play with my son,” he said.
Firefighters battled the blaze for an hour before it was contained and the roof billowed smoke an hour later.
Albury Central station officer Dean Campbell said his immediate concern had been stopping the fire from spreading to other houses but it was some time before it could be contained.
“By that stage the roof was starting to cave in so we had to get all the firies out and attack it from outside, which always takes a lot longer,” he said.
Ms Breen and her children stayed with her parents last night.