Flashback to the dramatic day the Oberon RSL Club burned

LOOKING BACK: Oberon Fire and Rescue member Peter Ryan is pictured on the ladder at the fire that destroyed the Oberon RSL Club in 1969.

LOOKING BACK: Oberon Fire and Rescue member Peter Ryan is pictured on the ladder at the fire that destroyed the Oberon RSL Club in 1969.

AN article from NSW Fire and Rescue's Flashback Friday featured a fire in Oberon 50 years ago at the Oberon RSL Club.

Damage estimated at $250,000 (approximately $2.9 million today) was caused when fire destroyed the 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 Station received the fire call at 3.30pm and an immediate response was made by the captain and nine men.

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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Firefighter Peter Ryan attended this fire and is still a member with Fire and Rescue NSW Station 411 Oberon.

In Mr Ryan's 55 years as a retained firefighter with the Oberon brigade, he has attended several major fires, including a fatal house fire in 1967; the RSL Club fire in 1969; a bakery fire in the 1970s; the Leagues Club in the 1980s; the heat plant fire at the MDF factory in the 1990s; and the moulding shop fire at Highland Pine in 2013.

He said he still loves being part of Oberon Fire Brigade and he is well-supported by the younger members. Mr Ryan has also been a member of the Mayfield Rural Fire Service Brigade.

Each month, Fire and Rescue NSW stations run drills on selected topics to keep skill levels up and firefighters familiar with all the resources available to them.

On Monday night, Oberon Fire and Rescue had a simulated chemical release at the Oberon Common where members practised identifying the substances, dealing with them safely and decontamination of the area, including the firefighters and their equipment.