Day the Oberon RSL Club burned

BATTLE: Oberon Fire and Rescue at the RSL fire. Peter Ryan is on the ladder and Peter Ralls is on the right of the photo.
BATTLE: Oberon Fire and Rescue at the RSL fire. Peter Ryan is on the ladder and Peter Ralls is on the right of the photo.

THE Museum of Fire at Penrith regularly posts a story on its Facebook page as part of its Flashback Friday.

Last week, the story was about a fire at the Oberon RSL Club in 1969.

The post was as follows:

"Damage estimated at $250,000 (approximately $2.9 million today) was caused when fire destroyed the Oberon RSL Club on October 16, 1969.

“The fire started in the kitchen when a quantity of fat caught alight on the stove, and the flames spread to the bitumen roofing material adjacent to the ventilation system.

“Oberon Fire Station received the fire call at 3.30pm and an immediate response was made by the captain and nine men.

HELP: The Oberon Fire and Rescue crew, Ray Mawhood, Peter Ralls, Don Roberts, Ted Ryan, Peter Ryan, Peter Reynolds, Bill Hayes, Bob Ralls, Don Goddard and Hal Harvey, attended the 1969 fire. Photo: WARREN RAWSON

HELP: The Oberon Fire and Rescue crew, Ray Mawhood, Peter Ralls, Don Roberts, Ted Ryan, Peter Ryan, Peter Reynolds, Bill Hayes, Bob Ralls, Don Goddard and Hal Harvey, attended the 1969 fire. Photo: WARREN RAWSON

“On arrival, the fire crew found that the eastern end of the building, the roof structure and the bitumen roof covering were all seriously involved and that the fire was spreading rapidly under the influence of an easterly wind.

“Firefighters, assisted by civilians, did a splendid job of bringing the fire under control in just over an hour.

“However, it was impossible for them to save the heavily-wooden new section of the Oberon RSL Club which contained the kitchen, lounge, auditorium and bar.”

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Oberon Fire and Rescue member Peter Ryan, who has served with the brigade for 54 years, and who was at the RSL Club fire, this week remembered it as one of the biggest fires Oberon has ever had.

"Other large ones were a fatal house fire in 1967, Oberon Bakery in the seventies and the Leagues Club in the eighties,” he said.

LOCAL LEGEND: Peter Ryan, who has been a member of Oberon Fire and Rescue for 54 years, remembers the 1969 fire.

LOCAL LEGEND: Peter Ryan, who has been a member of Oberon Fire and Rescue for 54 years, remembers the 1969 fire.

"There was also a large oil fire in the heat plant area at the MDF factory in the nineties and a large fire in the Highland Pines moulding shop in 2000.

“There have also been a number of serious house fires over the years.

“We actually attended a house fire on Saturday. When we arrived, we found heavy smoke issuing from the roof and front door, with residents self-evacuating.”

Mr Ryan said the 1969 fire destroyed the new section of the club that was a little over 12 months old.

"Unlike today, we had no back-up from other services,” he said.

“We had no town Rural Fire Service or State Emergency Service - only out-of-town bushfire brigades.

"In a similar situation today, we would have back-up including fire rescue from Kelso and Bathurst.

"Also, in those days there were no mobile phones, no radios and very little safety protection except for a hat, thick coat and boots."