Moruya's famous Spanish-style home destroyed by fire

Firefighting crews battled a house fire at Moruya that was "10-times" the average intensity on Thursday, September 10.

Just after 6pm, firefighting crews from Batemans Bay to Narooma rushed to the property on North Head Drive, Moruya.

The fire quickly progressed within minutes, the Moruya home was destroyed.

The fire quickly progressed within minutes, the Moruya home was destroyed.

Elderly owner, Refa Barry, luckily escaped.

Moruya Fire and Rescue captain Mark Gould said it was a matter of minutes before the home was engulfed in flames.

"It developed extremely quickly," he said.

"Initially, we couldn't see flames, just smoke issuing from the rear of the property. It quickly developed to fire in the roof, 10-minutes later."

Mr Gould said embers from the house ignited a grass fire at the front of the property.

There were no houses nearby, however lots of grassland.

"We didn't want it to get into the grass paddocks," Mr Gould said.

Crews fought the blaze from the front and back of the home.

"It was an ongoing task to put it out, due to the lack of water - there was no hydrant system nearby," Mr Gould said.

Six Rural Fire Service crews ferried water from a hydrant system closer to town.

Mr Barry had driven to his neighbour when the power went out and smoke first started. That neighbour alerted others down the road that Mr Barry's house was on fire.

A neighbour who wished to remain anonymous was one of the first at the scene.

"I didn't realise Refa wasn't in there, it was a very distressing moment," she said.

"We couldn't do anything, there was no power and we couldn't use water at all."

She was relieved to see Mr Barry return after being at the neighbours.

"We were comforting him while we waited for the fire brigade to come, he was quite distressed," she said.

"It was very sad."

We were comforting him while we waited for the fire brigade to come.

It was an intense blaze, with a huge plume of smoke that billowed across North Head Drive. The road was closed to traffic.

Mr Gould said the house fire had "high fuel loads".

"It was 10-times the fuel load of what a normal house has; making the job a lot more interesting and challenging," he said.

Mr Barry had collected a lot of things over the years that was placed inside and around his home.

Fire and Rescue crews worked until midnight. RFS volunteers were on watch into the night.

The following morning, Mr Barry stood at the fence of his property, unsure of what or where to go next.

Refa Barry's belongings burned in the blaze. He watched as firefighters continued to wet down his home the morning after the fire.

Refa Barry's belongings burned in the blaze. He watched as firefighters continued to wet down his home the morning after the fire.

Moruya fire crews continued to wet it down.

His neighbour shared some of Mr Barry's story as he was still in shock after the ordeal.

"I know some people probably saw it (Mr Barry's home) as an eye-sore, but he absolutely loves living here," she said.

"He is so proud to have this piece of land and loves it. He talked to me years ago, and said he had a very hard upbringing."

Moruya Rural Fire Service wet down objects burning inside on Friday, September 10.

Moruya Rural Fire Service wet down objects burning inside on Friday, September 10.

She said he moved to Australia from Egypt and was a civil engineer in Queensland. He settled in Canberra before moving to the Moruya home in the 90s.

"He does have some family in Egypt, but no one here," his neighbour said.

"He loves a yarn. We stop and have a chat every now and then and take him a plate of food on Christmas Day."

She said he was a kind-hearted man, who always wanted to give something in return.

She understood Mr Barry lost his wife some years ago.

The RFS inspects the property on Friday morning, September 10.

The RFS inspects the property on Friday morning, September 10.

"He said to me one day, 'some people turn to drinking, some people turn to smoking, I just started collecting things'," she said.

A NSW Health representative pulled in to check on Mr Barry. She was the bearer of some good news - she found him a temporary place to stay.

The Mediterranean-style home held many memories for Mr Barry, as well as other Moruya families who grew up in the home over the decades before him.

It was a sad sight to see the landmark perish. It was unknown the cause of the fire, but believed to be an electrical fault.

This story Moruya's famous Spanish-style home destroyed by fire first appeared on Bay Post-Moruya Examiner.

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