No April fool: Battery change saves farmer from fire
UPDATE 2.30PM: Biddeston farmer Darren Bizzell's decision to change his smoke alarm batteries yesterday is the only reason he is alive today.
Mr Bizzell dozed off in front of the television in his Toowoomba Cecil Plains Rd home last night.
Earlier in the day he had checked his smoke alarm batteries and replaced them.
That diligence paid off when he was woken from his evening slumber on a lounge about 8.50pm by the high-pitch beeping of the alarm.
He could hear cracking and popping and smoke was clouding his view of the timber home's high ceilings.
"I went out, the office was on fire and fairly well burning into the bedroom," Mr Bizzell said.
He deployed a fire extinguisher while calling 000.
"It went up that quick that I couldn't even get stuff out of the back door."
He also called his neighbour Rodney Dawson, who quickly drove up to help.
Mr Dawson had to pull Mr Bizzell away as he tried in vain to save items from the back door of his home.
"He yelled out from the smoke," Mr Dawson said.
"I ran up there and grabbed him."
The house was engulfed within minutes of the alarm going off.
Mr Bizzell said he was alerted by a smoke alarm directly above his lounge.
"If I didn't have smoke detectors in there I would be dead.
"It is sort of hard to get your head around how quick they go up.
"If you don't have your batteries right in your detectors you want to get them right."
Queensland Fire and Emergency Service Toowoomba fire investigator John Burrows said the fire appeared to have started near where Mr Bizzell had laptop computers.
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Mr Burrows said the cause was still being determined.
Firefighters have this week been promoting fire safety information as part of their Don't be a Fool campaign.
Residents are urged to replace their smoke alarm batteries once a year.
Meanwhile, Mr Bizzell said he would rebuild on his cattle property.
"There is no two ways about that."
7AM: A house at Biddeston, west of Toowoomba has been destroyed by fire overnight.
A man inside at the time escaped without injury.
Emergency services were called to the property on Toowoomba-Cecil Plains Rd about 8.50 last night.
The arrived to find the house engulfed in flames.
A Queensland Ambulance Service spokesman said that the occupant of the home had only changed the batteries in his fire alarms yesterday.
"He checked them and found the batteries were flat, so he was very lucky."
Fire authorities are today investigating.