Ilfracombe residents are in shock following a fire that completely levelled their only general store this morning (Wednesday).
According to Inspector Mark Henderson, smoke was seen to be coming from the roof of the combined store and cafe at around 8.30am, and the owners were alerted.
The building was immediately evacuated.
Mr Henderson said that by 9.45am, the building was razed to the ground despite the best efforts of Ilfracombe’s Rural Fire Brigade units and two units from the Longreach Fire Brigade.
He said a house behind the store was at risk for a period of time, due to the intensity of the fire.
“The exceptional work of our firefighters prevented any spread,” he said.
The cause is undetermined at present and will be treated as a crime scene until initial investigations have been completed.
Mr Henderson said there had been no injuries, but nothing in the building had been able to be salvaged.
It’s the second fire in the region in recent months – in mid-June Longreach’s Lyceum Hotel was gutted by fire.
Longreach Regional Council mayor, Ed Warren said it would be a devastating experience for the owners, Tony and Donna Dixon, and a tragedy for the small community of 200 people situated on the Landsborough Highway.
“The owners have lost something they’ve probably invested their life savings in,” he said. “It’s always a tragedy to lose buildings in our western towns, and particularly in smaller towns like Ilfracombe.”
The Ilfracombe store was owned at one time by the Longreach council but was returned to private ownership at around the time of amalgamation, Cr Warren recalled.
“The townspeople and travelling public were utilising it for a variety of meals and it serviced their immediate grocery needs without driving 27km to Longreach,” he said.
“It will be up to the store owners as to whether the rebuild – we will just to wait and see.”