Rowella home gutted by fire

FIRE gutted a home at Rowella yesterday, spreading to surrounding grassland and sparking fears of a bushfire.

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Neighbours reported loud explosions as the fire  consumed a car in the driveway and threatened surrounding properties on Brodies Road.

Strong, dry winds pushed the fire into grass surrounding the home, drawing fire crews from across the Tamar Valley. 

The home's occupants, out at the time of the fire that started about 2.30pm, arrived distraught as fire crews were mopping up.

``As you can understand they are upset, they've just lost everything but at the moment they have good support through their friends and family,'' Beaconsfield fire brigade chief Todd Russell said.

Officer Russell said firefighters were initially unaware if anybody was home when the fire broke out but were quickly told it was empty. 

``Initially when we arrived on scene the structure was gone, the majority of smoke was being transported from the vegetation  fire which had obviously gone through thick dry grass and headed out through the paddock,'' he said.

``Most of the properties have maintained their land which has stopped the dry grass (fire) from generating quick speed.''

Officer Russell said it took about 45 minutes to contain the fire with up to 35 firefighters on the ground.

Neighbour Steve Watts said the fire caused big blocks of ash to fall from the sky as plumes of smoke covered the road. 

``I heard the sound of explosions and I thought that doesn't sound very good,'' he said.

Other neighbours used hoses to prevent a next door property catching fire. 

Beaconsfield police Sergeant Glen Evans said the cause of the fire was still unknown and it was standard procedure to treat it as suspicious until it was identified.

Meanwhile, Launceston detectives will begin investigating a separate fire at Invermay  on Saturday deemed suspicious  by the Tasmania Fire Service.  

The blaze on Forster Street gutted the home causing about $150,000 damage.

Neighbours raised the alarm as they sought to protect their own home from the fire with hoses.

Nobody was home at the time.

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