Mass evacuations after schoolies fire
More than a thousand schoolies are evacuated from clubs and units after fire causes a ceiling to collapse at Shooters nightclub in Surfers Paradise around 12:30am Tuesday.PT1M34S http://www.dailylife.com.au/action/externalEmbeddedPlayer?id=d-2a4h4 620 349 November 27, 2012
Up to 1000 people were inside a Surfers Paradise nightclub moments before the ceiling over the front entrance collapsed in a major fire.
Shooters nightclub on Orchid Avenue was evacuated within five minutes by fast-acting police and security guards overnight, after fire broke out on level one of the Top of the Mark apartment complex directly above the nightclub about 12.30am.
A major fire has forced schoolies to evacuate buildings on the Gold Coast. Photo: Seven News
‘‘We’re just extremely lucky that there’s been no injury or deaths,’’ Inspector Mat Rosevear told reporters at the scene this morning.
He said police suspected an electrical fault caused the building’s main circuit board to explode, sending ‘‘thick, toxic smoke’’ throughout the complex.
‘‘We ... believe it was disseminated through the air-conditioning,’’ Inspector Rosevear said.
Schoolies leave an evacuated building. Photo: Seven News
‘‘We’ve had toxic black smoke go through the [premises] and also down the street, so if it wasn’t for the quick action of the security and the police on scene we could be looking at a coroner’s court instead.’’
Police declared an emergency situation under the Public Safety Preservation Act after smoke filled the first four levels of the apartment building, where ‘schoolies’ were staying.
‘‘The main fire has then hit Shooters nightclub, eventually resulting in the ceiling collapsing at the front entry,’’ Inspector Rosevear said.
Police declared an emergency situation after a fire broke out in the basement of the Top of the Mark apartment complex on Orchid Avenue, Surfers Paradise. Photo: Seven News
However, revellers inside the club were largely oblivious to the real danger.
‘‘There wasn’t initial panic, because we didn’t have the fire per se, that came later on,’’ Inspector Rosevear said.
‘‘People just came out ... and probably weren’t really aware of what was going on.
Police evacuate schoolies from a building at Surfers Paradise. Photo: Seven News
‘‘They were all yelling and screaming ... they just knew they needed to be out of the club.
‘‘We’ve managed to get them out in about five minutes.’’
Courtney Fraser, who was working in a nearby cafe last night, said the precinct was busy at the time.
‘‘I was just told that Shooters caught fire and that everyone was evacuated and it was at high capacity,’’ she told 612 ABC Brisbane.
Queensland Fire and Rescue Service area commander Todd Murray said the fire, which took more than four hours to extinguish, was difficult to contain.
‘‘It was an electrical fire in a major transformer switchboard room,’’ he said.
A woman with breathing difficulties and a firefighter suffering heat stress were taken to the Gold Coast hospital, the Department of Community Safety said.
Schoolies staying in the apartment building were evacuated, along with 500 other people in the immediate area.
And 58 residents of the Mark complex had to spend the night at a community sports centre in Southport.
Police are helping schoolies and residents find alternative, temporary accommodation.
Occupants in neighbouring apartments are urged to close windows and doors today because of the lingering smoke.
Anyone seeking information about people who may have been affected by the incident are to call 1300 253 228.