Matong’s famous antique shop has been damaged after a fire broke out in the roof just after 8am on Friday morning.
Matong’s Rural Fire Service was first on the scene before support arrived from Narrandera, Ganmain and Grong Grong.
“We had nine personnel working on containing the fire which took about 30 minutes,” said Narrandera Fire and Rescue Captain Neale Tait.
While no-one was in the shop at the time, resident Kim Bolitho, who lives in the adjoining premises, said it was frightening.
“I was asleep when the fire broke out. I was pretty shaken but the firies were awesome.
“I have two horses, one cat, three dogs and some chickens, but thankfully they got the fire sorted before it got to us. They’re champions,” Ms Bolitho said.
Quick action by the fire brigades meant damaged was contained to the roof, however the premises is believed to have suffered water and structural damage.
“While an investigation will determine the cause, it appears the fire could have been an electrical fault,” Fire Captain Tait said.
Locals suggest mice, which have been a problem, could have gnawed through some electrical wires to spark the blaze.
Matong Memories Antiques has been a fixture of the town for 34 years and owned and run by much-loved local, 89-year-old Laura Evans. She arrived to find fire crews working quickly to save her beloved shop.
“It’s quite devastating,” Mrs Evans said.
Mrs Evans said the building dates back to 1906 and has been used as a general store, a barber’s shop and, in the 1950’s, a billiard’s room, before she took over in the 1980’s and turned it into one of the Riverina’s best known, and sought, after antique shops.
As the damage from the fire became better understood, Mrs Evans was reduced to tears, before being comforted by her son and daughter-in-law and local residents who’d come running to help.
Matong’s close-knit community immediately rallied, with neighbour Kim Bolitho offering the front rooms of her home to be a temporary shop for as many of Mrs Evan’s antiques as it could fit.
“I don’t know what to say right now but there is a tremendous amount work to do to clean up the many items inside,” Mrs Evans said.