Screaming owner 'held back' as fire destroys mansion
NEIGHBOURS said the owner of a Byron Bay guesthouse, which burnt to the ground on Tuesday afternoon, had to be "held back" as she tried to run into the home, screaming and crying.
Emergency services were called to the three-storey, multi million dollar guesthouse, called The Spirit of Bali, at 2.46pm on Tuesday, but it was too unsafe to enter.
The neighbour who made the emergency call watched helplessly as the 115-year-old home was engulfed by flames in a matter of minutes.
"It started at the bottom, and climbed up two storeys, three storeys ... if (firefighters) were there just 10 minutes earlier, maybe they could have saved the house," he said.
The Top Shop employee, Tess O'Connor, rented the guesthouse a few years ago. She drove past the destroyed home yesterday morning and she said she was overwhelmed by the devastation.
"It was a lovely wooden home ... wooden floorboards, kind of rustic, there was a lovely garden," Ms O'Connor said.
The painted yellow home had a large front veranda with a view of lush tropical plants and a Buddha statue.
The garden was filled with rainforest plants and bamboo furnishings, along with rustic pots and statues, but now all that's left is rubble.
Neighbour Nadia Vanag said it was tragic to see there was nothing left of the historic home except black soot and the roof.
She said it appeared the fire began in the living room.
"It was somewhere towards the middle of the house, probably coming from the living room," she said.
"We were very worried it would spread ... the fire was going towards the house next door."
Palm trees directly lining the fence of the neighbouring property were burnt, but the fire was controlled before it could spread any further.
Firefighters returned to the scene Tuesday night and yesterday after the rubble reignited several times.
The cause of the fire is still unknown.