Residents jump out of windows in unit block blaze


UPDATE: GOLD Coaster Isabella Myler can still taste the "pure smoke" she inhaled as she fled her unit block seconds before it was completely engulfed by a giant fire.

The 21-year-old makeup artist - breathing in thick smoke and hearing "waves of screaming" - has recounted the dramatic escape from her Coolangatta unit destroyed by fire last Friday.

"By the time I got out of the bedroom I took a breath and it was just pure smoke. Just chemical, petrol, rubber smoke.

"I thought we got gas bombed. I did not think it was a fire."

She had just moved in with her boyfriend less than a month earlier.

"It sounded exactly like fireworks when they hit the sky, that real loud popping noise," she said.

Isabella Myler and boyfriend Izaac McAndrew. Photo: Supplied
Isabella Myler and boyfriend Izaac McAndrew. Photo: Supplied

"My boyfriend went to the door and saw this wave of red and smoke, he ran back in and said, 'We've got to go now'."

By the time Ms Myler and boyfriend Izaac McAndrew had made it out the door and onto the front lawn the entire unit had been overcome by fire.

"We were seconds away from that," she said, adding the blaze had also taken a severe emotional toll.

"It wasn't like we got out and then it was on fire, it was a close call. We almost lost our lives.

"My parents came and I just kept going in and out of panic attacks, you get the smell of the smoke and it just feels like you can't breathe again."

Police are still investigating the Coyne Street fire which broke out at the unit complex at 2am on September 25, with witnesses watching the blaze from hundreds of metres away.

At the time, it was reported some residents had to jump out of windows to escape the inferno.

"We had three or four hours waiting for the police just watching it burn. And then all of a sudden it's done and you can go home, but you have nowhere to go.

"Even when it's over it's not over, because you have nothing. What do you have? I have pyjama pants, a shirt, my phone and a stuffed toy, in the moment that's what I grabbed.

"That's all I have left."

A GoFundMe page started by Ms Myler's friends has now garnered widespread support and collected almost $7000.

Another donation page has also been started for fellow residents and friends Dhananjaya Johnson and Shenay Esposito, who had much of their belongings damaged by smoke.



EARLIER: FIREFIGHTERS say occupants of a Gold Coast unit block were forced to jump out of windows to escape a fierce fire which torched the building early this morning.

Fire and Rescue NSW Banora Point was called to the fire on Coyne Street, Coolangatta alongside Queensland firefighters, police and paramedics about 2am.

While firefighters were on the way to the blaze reports came through of "multiple persons reported trapped" and "self evacuating from windows".

"Flame and smoke could be seen from some distance and it was evident to arriving crews that this was a major fire," a statement posted to Facebook read.

Nearby resident Piers Booth also reported hearing "shouts and bangs" when he and his wife woke up shortly after the fire began.

"We woke up to shouts of 'wake up everyone'," he said.

"We heard people yelling, honestly we thought it was drunk people trying to wake everybody up.

"But we looked and it was 50, 60, 70 foot in the air. Everyone was coming out of their buildings to see."

Banora Point firefighters arrived at the scene and began tackling the flames with hoses, trying to prevent the fire spreading to adjoining units.

A search of the affected unit came up empty but authorities, including Queensland Ambulance and Queensland Police, confirmed no one had been trapped.

Seven people were assessed by paramedics but despite two being treated for minor smoke inhalation all declined transport to hospital.

"Fire and Rescue NSW worked alongside Queensland Fire and Emergency Services (QFES) firefighters for some time to contain the incident," the statement read.

"A plan was devised for each agency to monitor different sectors and share tasks as required. "The operation was seamless and our mutual aid agreement showed its true potential.

"FRNSW issued a 'stop' message at 4:16am whilst QFES remains on scene to extinguish hot spots and investigate further."

Police confirmed a neighbouring unit complex in Haig Street had to be evacuated.

The fire reportedly left one unit destroyed and other units and garages damaged.

Fire investigators are expected to arrive on scene today and police investigations are underway.




Originally published as Coast unit destroyed by fire

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