Melbourne nursing home fire church youth group save elderly residents

‘The adrenaline kicked in’: Group of teenagers playing board games in a church become unlikely heroes as they help evacuate a burning nursing home

  • A church young adults group helped evacuate a nursing home on Sunday night 
  • The group had smelled smoke and found fire next door to the nursing home
  • They helped evacuate 25 elderly residents, provided them shelter at the church 
  • One woman was taken to hospital and a man has been arrested in relation to fire

By Hannah Moore For Daily Mail Australia

Published: 00:04 EDT, 1 July 2019 | Updated: 00:04 EDT, 1 July 2019

A church youth group’s board games night descended into chaos on Sunday night as attendees found themselves evacuating a nearby nursing home as flames licked at the building. 

Andrew Faram, 22, told Daily Mail Australia the group of eight had arrived at the Murrumbeena Uniting Church in Melbourne about 7pm when their youth pastor began to smell smoke, and the group headed outside to see what was happening. 

‘We were met with a black cloud of smoke, getting thicker as it came down the street,’ he said. 

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25 nursing home residents were evacuated on Sunday night after a fire broke out next door

The elderly residents were moved to a nearby church, whose young patrons had dashed over to warn of the fire and help evacuate everyone inside

As the group got closer to the smoke, they saw sparks coming from an electricity box which was mere metres from a nursing home. 

Mr Faram said the group ran into the two buildings that formed the nursing home and screamed for residents and staff to evacuate.   

‘Everyone started running into the rooms of the elderly patients to help evacuate them,’ he said. 

‘It became a mad hustle to get everyone out of bed – a lot of them weren’t mobile – we were lifting them as quick as possible into any mobility device we could find – walkers, wheelchairs, anything we could find.

‘Someone suggested we take them down to the church, so we were just yelling for people to take them there – get them in there, get them warm, get them food and drinks and calm them down.’ 

Residents were offered tea and coffee after they settled in at the church, and a local woman brought brownies for residents to snack on

The fire broke out next door to the nursing home, leaving the charcoal chicken store engulfed in flames

The freelance photographer said once everyone was in, things began to calm down. 

‘[The 25 residents] were just confused more than anything,’ he said. ‘I had a bluetooth speaker, and one of the nurses asked me to chuck on some music. 

‘There was like a 1940s collection on Apple Music, so we chucked that on for them – one of the locals from over the road brought over brownies they’d made, and we had tea and coffee.

‘The residents kind of huddled together and kept cosy, and some fell asleep in their wheelchairs.’

A man (not pictured) was arrested hours later and taken to hospital for a mental health assessment

Residents were treated at the church for minor smoke inhalation and one woman was transported to hospital

Mr Faram said at first, he was driven by the desire to know what was happening, but once he realised people could be at risk, the choice to go into the nursing home was simple. 

‘It was just go in, get everyone out as soon as possible, make sure they’re safe,’ he said.  

‘There was definitely a kick of adrenaline as soon as we saw the fire.’ 

One woman was transported to hospital on Sunday night, while paramedics treated others for minor symptoms of smoke inhalation at the scene. 

The charcoal chicken shop next door was fully engulfed by flames, and police are working to determine the cause of the fire. 

Mr Faram said after the residents were cleared to return to their nursing home, he and his friends returned to their planned board game night

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