Fire rips through unit

BLACKENED: A fire tore through the inside of a second storey student flat at Warrenheip in the early hours of Tuesday. Picture: Lachlan Bence
BLACKENED: A fire tore through the inside of a second storey student flat at Warrenheip in the early hours of Tuesday. Picture: Lachlan Bence

A faulty phone charger caused a fire that gutted a student flat at Warrenheip early on Tuesday morning, according to the property manager.

Ballarat City Fire Station senior station officer Steve Poulter said crews were called to battle the blaze in the second storey unit on Mahars Road about 5.20am, forcing their way through the door.

Paramedics arrived on scene and watched on, waiting as the flat’s occupants were still unaccounted for.

“At first, we were unsure if anybody was home, so the main priority was to search the unit,” Mr Poulter said.

“We verified nobody was at home, and had the rest of the occupants on the block evacuated.”

It took four CFA trucks about 20 minutes to contain the blaze, which tore through the inside of the unit.

The flat’s entry was at the top of a flight of stairs, allowing crews easy access to deploy fire hoses.

Ballarat police’s Senior Sergeant Stacey Glenister said officers were not treating the blaze as suspicious as they tried to locate the occupants.

The unit’s block backs onto the Ballarat Colonial Motor Inn, which is recognisable to motorists travelling along the Western Freeway.

However, the block of redbrick flats does not belong to the motel.

Rather, the property is managed by Elmstone Property Group, which markets the flats as student accommodation.

Elmstone released a statement, thanking firefighters for arriving before the fire worsened.

“It appears the cause of the fire was a faulty phone charger,” it said.

“Fortunately, no one was home at the time and there were no injuries. We would like to thank the CFA for their quick response, attending the site within minutes to extinguish the fire.

“The fire alarms in the building worked to evacuate neighbours, although the fire was contained to the bedroom of one residence.

“We will now be working to help find alternate accommodation for the tenants, as the apartment will not be habitable for at least a week, while repairs are made.”