Katoomba RSL Club was devastated by a mammoth fire on 24th February 2017. Was the kitchen exhaust system involved? Most likely….
A Fire and Rescue officer told the Blue Mountains Gazette at 3.30pm today “the RSL is completely gone”.
A partial roof collapse and wall collapse mean it is too dangerous for the officers to fight the fire from the inside.
Appliances from 10 stations are on the scene at Lurline Street, including two high rise aerial appliances, one from Huntingwood and one from Penrith.
“It’s too dangerous,” the officer said. “We’ve lost the club completely.”
Students at nearby Katoomba Public School were ordered to stay inside and keep windows and doors shut until their parents could pick them up.
The club was evacuated and issued a statement on their website it was closed until further notice.
The streets of Waratah, Lurline and Merriwa are blocked off and will remain closed until tomorrow.
The fire is believed to be the worst building fire in more than a decade in the Mountains.
It is believed the fire started in the club’s kitchen sometime after 1.30pm today.
Katoomba RSL Club posted on its Facebook page at 3.22pm: “Members, guests and staff who were in the club this afternoon are all well.
“We are unable to provide any further details at this stage.”
Structural engineers were on site on Saturday to help assess the building. An investigation by police and fire officers into the cause hasn’t been possible as the site isn’t declared structurally sound.
While initially fire officers thought it has started in the kitchen, witnesses are revealing it seemed to take hold in the roof.
In March 2018 it was announced by the Blue Mountains Gazette that the club is in the process of being re-built. It is due to open in mid-2019.
Every year there are a significant number of roof fires resulting from neglected maintenance, which includes kitchen exhaust cleaning.
Cooking grease and oil can be detrimental to almost any roof membrane system’s performance. These are the most likely discharges from kitchen exhaust fans. Grease and oil can cause other problems, such as:
- Fall hazards for rooftop maintenance workers; and
- An increased potential for fire.
For some kitchen exhaust cleaning companies, cleaning only what is immediately visible isn’t enough. Any greasy residue that remains is a hazard that can rapidly spread a fire originating at a kitchen appliance up through the kitchen exhaust system onto the roof.
Most commercial kitchens are partially protected with fire suppression equipment. This doesn’t lead all the way up to the fan on the roof. As a result, restaurants that are subject to improper kitchen exhaust cleaning are at an elevated risk, even after any fire at the cooking station has been put out.
The best way to protect a roofing system is to prevent grease from ever reaching the roof membrane. Shepherd Filters stop up to 98% of kitchen grease from getting into the kitchen exhaust. What’s more, our disposable kitchen grease filters are naturally fire-retardant!