Three elderly people die and 14 are seriously hurt in Sydney nursing home fire
Published 18/11/2011 | 07:53
A BLAZE that tore through a Sydney nursing home at dawn today left three elderly people dead and 14 in a serious condition in hospital.
Firefighters were confronted with horrific and chaotic scenes when they responded to an emergency call at the Quakers Hill Nursing Home in North West Sydney.
"This is a firefighter's worst nightmare - turning up to a nursing home where there are elderly people who can't get themselves out of harm's way," said New South Wales (NSW) Fire and Rescue commissioner Greg Mullins.
"We had dozens of firefighters in breathing apparatus working in thick black smoke where they couldn't see their hands in front of their faces, so imagine what it was like for the elderly trying to escape."
New South Wales police superintendent Robert Redfern confirmed that three bodies had been found and the likely cause of death was smoke inhalation.
Ambulance officials added that many residents were hurt with 14 in intensive care, some with severe burns.
Supt Redfern warned that with the injured so old and frail, the death toll might rise.
News cameras showed dozens of disorientated people lying on beds or sitting in wheelchairs outside the home in the aftermath.
Around 100 people were evacuated from the building.
There was no sprinkler system in the nursing home as they are not required by law in Australia.
Officials said the fire was believed to have broken out in two areas of the facility, with homicide and arson squad detectives on the scene to investigate the cause, although their job was hampered when parts of the roof collapsed.
Police said that they were treating the fire as “suspicious”.