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Man receives serious burns following explosion at Port Wakefield house

NEIGHBOURS have dragged an elderly man from a burning Port Wakefield home after an explosion on Sunday morning.

Two homes have been destroyed in the blaze while upwards of 40 firefighters continue their battle to stop it spreading to more homes almost three hours after the initial reports of an explosion on Sunday morning.

Neighbour Sandra Yeates was in her backyard talking to her daughter on the phone when she heard the explosion and saw plumes of thick smoke coming from the house next door.

“I tried to get in there but the smoke was so thick … I knew my neighbour’s Dad was there, so I ran into my house to get a tea towel and put on my face,” Ms Yeates said.

An explosion started a huge fire in Port Wakefield. Picture Roger Wyman

The older man managed to escape the home with burns to his shoulder and torso before Ms Yeates ran to his aid, while another man tried in vain to quell the blaze with a garden hose.

As they used wet towels to try and help the man, known as Phil, flames jumped into Ms Yeates’ adjoining maisonette, which has also been destroyed.

An emotional Ms Yeates said she was shocked by the ferocity of the fire, and had no chance of stopping it from spreading before firefighters arrived.

“I now understand when people say that they didn’t have time to grab anything, but I was more concerned with my neighbours and helping out Phil before I was concerned about anything else,” she said.

“I had my grandkids in the house, but they were with my daughter-in-law at that stage, I’m just glad they are all okay, but I am a bit worried about Phil because he already has respiratory issues and he inhaled a fair bit of smoke.”

Advice message for Port Wakefield locals to stay indoors due to smoke. Picture: CFS

The man was taken by the Medstar helicopter to Royal Adelaide Hospital where he is being treated for burns and smoke inhalation.

Ms Yeates’ 22-year old daughter Melanie was working but rushed to the scene only to watch as her family home burned along with most of their possessions.

“It’s been our family home our whole lives, so all our baby photos and everything were inside, but at least everyone got out, I hope Phil is alright because he is a lovely old man,” Melanie said.

She said a pet cat and dog, along with a number of birds, had been rescued before the blaze took hold.

The loss of their home and possessions comes as the Yeates family deal with this week’s impending induced birth of a baby boy for their son Julian, 20, and his 18-year old partner Emily Artwik.

“She is being induced because the baby’s not very well. He’s only got one kidney and it’s in his pelvis and they are going to have to take him a week early,” Sandra Yeates said.

“Julian and Emily have just moved back home with us so I could help her with the baby — but all of the baby stuff was inside so that’s gone too.”

Melanie Yeates 22 with her mother Sandra Yeates 54, outside the fire that affected their home in Port Wakefield. Picture: Roger Wyman

Source:News Corp Australia

The baby’s new pram was saved but clothing and other accessories were lost in the fierce blaze, which occurred about 50m from the Port Wakefield Hotel.

Ms Yeates said while she had lost almost everything, she had already been heartened by the support of local residents, who rallied around her and the injured man’s daughter as firefighters continued battling the flames.

“This whole town is absolutely wonderful. They band together and are just like a family when something like this happens, we’ve already had so many offers of where to stay tonight,” she said.

Despite the shock of the fire and the impending birth and health issues of his first son, Julian Yeates remained stoic and optimistic.

“It will be hard, but I’m sure we will be alright,” he said.