Residents homeless after fire

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A devastating fire has severely damaged a block of units in Haynes Street, Penrith, displacing many local residents whilst reconstruction work takes place.

About 5am on Saturday, October 26, residents were woken by large explosions caused by a fire that had started in the basement car park of the complex.

Peter Carkagis, who has lived in the unit block for the last three years, said that his escape from the fire was very fortunate.

“My wife gets up very early in the morning to go to work and woke me up because she could smell smoke,” he said.

“I went to the kitchen to see if everything was alright and there was no fire, so then I went into the bathroom, where there was smoke filling the room. I could feel the heat on the top of my head and thought there must have been a fire in the roof, so I yelled to my wife, ‘get dressed quickly and get out of here quicker’.

“We ran outside and down the front stairs and there were flames reaching our unit from the garage. We quickly ran across to the other side of the road.”

The blaze caused damage to many of the apartments in the block. Residents reported that due to the layout of the building, the flames were coming through the vents in the units and flames and smoke wrapped around the edges of the building.

Penrith City Councillor Marcus Cornish, who owns a unit in the complex, said he was concerned about the many people who live in the block.

“People cannot live there whilst the building is being repaired and the rental market in Penrith is very tight so I am worried about the impact this will have on the residents,” he said.

Police have confirmed they are investigating the incident as an alleged arson attack.

Three youths were seen running from the car park towards Thurston Street. Police are trying to identify two males between the ages of 12 and 14, one who was wearing a cap, t-shirt and trackpants; the other a light coloured t-shirt and hoodie. A female also between 12 and 14-years, with long dark hair and shorts was seen leaving the area.

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