Trainers' house went up in flames after crews left

A fire at Tony and Lyn Prendergast’s West Melton home reignited after firefighters left,...
A fire at Tony and Lyn Prendergast’s West Melton home reignited after firefighters left, destroying it and precious horse racing memorabilia. Photo: Geoff Sloan ​
Firefighters say they did all they could to prevent horse trainers Tony and Lyn Prendergast’s West Melton house from going up in flames.

The Weedons Ross Rd property was destroyed a few hours after fire crews thought they had put out an initial blaze.

Tony Prendergast, 84, who was terminally ill with cancer, was pulled out of the house by Lyn when the first fire started about 5pm on August 9.

Firefighters arrived, contained the blaze and thought they had put it out.

Lyn was allowed to go back in and retrieve her phone and wallet.

Tony Prendergast. Photo: Race Images
Tony Prendergast. Photo: Race Images
But at 1.30am insulation and bird nests in the ceiling space reignited, destroying the house and all of the Prendergast’s horse racing trophies and memorabilia.

Prendergast succumbed to his cancer a week after the fire.

His family decided to keep the second blaze and loss of trophies from him.

Area fire commander Dave Berry said firefighters had done all they could have to ensure the fire did not flare up.

An operational review of what had happened was under way.

Lyn Prendergast with the horse she trains, pacer One Direction. Photo: Race Images
Lyn Prendergast with the horse she trains, pacer One Direction. Photo: Race Images
"What the crews did, they had thermal imaging cameras and they went through the whole place three times with the cameras,” said Berry.

"They then hung around and had a debrief and then went back with the cameras.

"I believe they did it right.

"We have what we call an operational review.

Bruce Irvine.
Bruce Irvine.
"We just look at the actions and active strategies and what our learnings can be from there and training or response needed.”

The cause of the first fire is still being investigated but is believed to have been started by an electrical appliance.

The Prendergasts' son-in-law Dean Lory said while he understands fires can reignite, it was “bizarre” it happened just hours after crews left the scene.

“Whether their thermal imaging camera was actually working properly, you don’t know.” 

The West Melton property. Photo: Geoff Sloan
The West Melton property. Photo: Geoff Sloan

 

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