Fire at Carpet Choice in Fairy Meadow

Early on Tuesday evening a fire broke out at Carpet Choice in Fairy Meadow, destroying the building and its contents.

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Black smoke bellowed from the roof as the fire began to take hold of the rest of the building and it wasn’t long before two metre high flames could be seen flapping from the building. A small crowd began to gather and people emerged from their houses as the first emergency response team arrived, an ambulance.

Within minutes the fire had spread through the building and signage at the front of the building began to collapse inwards; the white paneled walls of the building were a visible bright orange colour. As the fire brigades arrived small explosions could be heard coming from inside. Sparks were flying from the power lines attached to the front of the building, but even more sparks were spraying from the angle grinder a fireman used to cut open the front door.

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Carpet Choice owner Mick Greham has since been wondering what caused the fire and what he’ll do to restore his business, “we’ve lost everything” he told crossfire today (Thursday). Mr Greham was already at home, forty minutes away, after locking up for the night and leaving at 5:20 when security rang him.

Despite the economic downturn “business has been good” says Mr Greham. “We have customers still…people have paid deposits, we just have to keep going”.

police have been stationed out the front of the complex since the fire which has been classified as a crime scene. So far there are no clues as to how the fire started and the area is yet to be secured for people to enter and investigate. Reports of a car soon after the fire started leaving the area are being followed up by police.

Mr Greham moved to Australia on the 12thDecember 1986 with 500 pounds in his pocket. He worked three jobs to obtain the Carpet Choice business; one of which was as a fireman, although his experience has not given him any clues as to how the blaze started. “We’re always careful, make sure every-things off and every-things wrapped up”, he says.

Carpet Choice has experienced numerous attacks from vandals. The business was burgled twice in October last year and has had the locks super glued shut three times in twelve months.

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Mr Greham is now focused on finding another location for his family business and continuing to serve his customers. He says many of the comforting phone calls he has received have come former customers.

Tony Cafe of T.C Forensic will be investigating the cause of the fire and assessing the damage once access to the area is granted. Mr Cafe has been involved in assessing several Wollongong fires including the Ethanol Tank which exploded at Port Kembla in 2004.

Mr Greham is unable to contact customers as all his records and contacts were lost in the fire. If you are a customer of Carpet Choice Wollongong please contact Mr Greham on 42250900.

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Clean up Australia Day: Notice

This Sunday the 1st of March is Clean up Australia Day. Wollongong has a long and successful history of getting involved and cleaning up the streets on the annual event and this year should be no different.

Families, individuals, friends and businesses can register on Sunday between 9am and 12pm at any of the 30 or so points across the Illawarra. Check the list for a registration desk closest to you.

Schools are getting a head start this year and will be doing their part on Friday. More than 40 schools in the Illawarra have registered to take part in Clean up Australia day.

Where you can register…

·        Helensburgh, Corner Parks and Junction streets – Royal National Park

·        Coalcliff – Surf Life Saving Club

·        Sandon Point – Surf Life Saving Club

·        Bulli – Slacky Creek, Beach end

·        Bulli – Bulli Tops

·        Woonona – McDonald’s Restaurant

·        Bellambi – Bellambi Point

·        Corrimal – Surf Life Saving Club

·        Mount Pleasant– Whipbird Reserve

·        North Wollongong– Puckeys Estate

·        Wollongong – North Beach

·        Wollongong – Belmore Basin

·        Wollongong – Flagstaff Hill

·        Wollongong – City Beach

·        Wollongong, Fisher Street – opposite Wollongong Public School

·        Wollongong – Tom Thumb Lagoon

·        Wollongong – Greenhouse Park

·        Figtree – McDonald’s Restaurant

·        Mount Kembla – Mount Kembla lookout

·        Berkeley – Boat ramp harbour (Saturday as well)

·        Warrawong – Adjacent to Illawarra Yacht Club

·        Warrawong, King Street – opposite Harvey Norman

·        Windang – Surf Life Saving Club

·        Tallawarra – Tallawarra Boat Ramp

·        Dapto, Gilba Road – near to water board gate

Jobs in the Illawarra lost in hard times

Almost 300 jobs in the Illawarra have been axed with Pacific Brands’ closing down the Bonds factory in Unanderra and King Gee in Bellabmbi. The Bellambi factory is set to close in July while Bonds will stay open until Feruary 2010. Nationwide 1850 people will be made unemployed when the work is moved overseas.
Pacific brands also manufactures Holeproff. Dunlop, Stussy, Mossimo, Berlei and Hard Yakka. This decision is another hit to the region with the loss of 100 jobs from the closure of Keelong detention centre on Friday.

Plans to Truck Nuclear Waste through the Illawarra

There are plans to truck nuclear waste to Port Kembla from the Lucas Heights site in Sydney. Originally the spent nuclear rods where transported to Port Botany however meetings between The Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation (ANSTO) and spokespersons from the region’s port late last year suggest that Port Kemlba will be the new detsination. Greens MP Lee Rhiannon is concerned about the safety of residents in the region as the time and date of the transportation will be kept secret until the nuclear waste arrives at Port Kembla. Ms Rhiannon identifies that various black spots on our roads pose great threat to local residents. I spoke to the MP yesterday about these plans and why Port Kembla will be the new shipping site for the nuclear waste.

INTERVIEW WITH GREENS MP LEE RHIANNON

Wollongong Hawks dreams are still alive.

Australian Health Management (AHM) have revived the dreams of the captain of the Wollongong Hawks Matt Campbell and the team to play in the next NBL season. Applications close on Friday for submission for next season and while the finnacial backing from AHM will help they still have a long way to go. A website http://www.savethehawks.com/ has been set up for the community and businesses to make donations along with a facebook page. The Wollongong hawks is the last of the Wollongong sporting teams after the demise of The Steelers Rugby League team and the Wollongong Wolves. Wollongong Hawks have played in all 31 NBL seasons since their beginning in 1979.

The Illawarra comes together to help the Bushfire victims

Australia mourned for the victims of the Black Saturday Bushfires in Victoria which has killed at least 210 people. Fires have ravaged through parts of the state for the past three weeks but many have said the day of mourning has come too soon after the wide spread devastation. Ten police officers from the region were deployed along with another 150 from the state to help relieve Victorian firefighters. Various emergency volunteers also joined the team from the Illawarra to help out those in the devastated areas including 21 firefighters from the Illawarra, Macarthur, Wollondilly and Sutherland areas. But it’s not only the emergency services in the region who have selflessly volunteered. Businesses and individuals in the Illawarra have come together to support the Victorian Bushfire Appeal with numerous events organised to raise money for those in need. Club Captain of Thirroul Surf Life Saving Club Lachlan Pritchard organised a bucket drive to send funds to the vitcims of the fires. I spoke to Lachlan last week to discuss his motivation for organising the drive and how the local community got involved.

Interview with Club Captain of Thirroul Surf Life Saving Club Lachlan Pritchard

Other events which will be held in the region include

– Friday March 6, Upstairs at the North Wollongong Pub with every person’s $10 entry fee going to the Victorian Bushfire Appeal.

Liberal party Reshuffle

The Liberal Party is experiencing turbulent times with a major reshuffle following Julie Bishop standing down as Shadow Treasurer. Ms Bishop will remain as Deputy liberal Leader but will take over the Foreign Affairs portfolio only four months after being named Shadow Treasurer. On the same day the former Opposition Leader Brendan Nelson has announced he will not contest in the next election feeling that it was time ‘for someone else to have a go.’ Media reports suggest that former Treasurer Peter Costello was approached to take over the position but declined. Joe Hockey the Finance Minister for the Howard Government has been appointed the job as Shadow Tresurer. This week’s reshuffle will undoubtedly affect public support for the Liberal party.