An investigation has been launched into the cause of a fire at the old Coolibah Motel in Port Macquarie.
A spokesperson from NSW Police said the fire is being treated as suspicious.
Fire and Rescue NSW Port Macquarie station officer Dawn Maynard said fire crews from Port Macquarie and Wauchope were called to the blaze at about 5.50pm on Tuesday, December 3. It took crews about an hour to bring the fire under control.
Given the age of the motel, a hazardous materials (HAZMAT) vehicle was on site to assist crews in managing the toxic nature of the fire, due to the risk of asbestos exposure.
Station officer Maynard said firefighters took precautions against possible exposure to asbestos particles by wearing breathing apparatus. Crews had to be contained and decontaminated after exiting the property.
The HAZMAT vehicle assisted in the operations, as its crew sprayed a substance onto the building in an attempt to prevent the spread of asbestos particles.
Firefighters managed to contain the fire to five units of the 20 unit motel and stopped it from spreading to adjoining properties.
When the fire first broke out, station officer Maynard said there was concern for residents, due to a toxic plume of smoke which was billowing in the air.
Firefighters advised residents to shut their doors, windows and to stay indoors.
Residents in nearby properties including the residential retirement village were not evacuated.
The building is set to be accessed by a structural engineer from Port Macquarie-Hastings Council.
Officers from Mid North Coast Police District established a crime scene and have commenced an investigation into the cause of the fire.
Police are appealing for anyone who may have noticed any suspicious activity in the area to contact Port Macquarie Police Station on 6583 0199 or to call Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.
Police are also looking to speak with two young females who may be able to assist with their inquiries. They are described as being aged between 15 to 20-years-old, with thin builds and between 160 to 165cm tall.
To report information please call Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000 or visit https://nsw.crimestoppers.com.au
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