The fire which destroyed a house in Bangalow Road, Byron Bay, last week.
The fire which destroyed a house in Bangalow Road, Byron Bay, last week.

Fire reignites holiday let debate

‘Absolutely relieved’ there were no fatalities in last week’s Byron Bay house blaze which saw nine backpackers flee for their lives, Byron Mayor Cr Jan Barham said she would continue to fight for the regulation of holiday lets in the shire.


While Byron Council has hit a brick wall in getting support from the State Government on the issue, Cr Barham will write to Planning Minister Tony Kelly highlighting the near-tragedy and seeking ‘clarification’ on the Government’s stance.


She said even though there were those who ridiculed the suggestion as scaremongering, the thought of a Childers-like disaster at Byron Bay weighed heavily on her mind.


“If anything like that did happen, one of the first things that would be said would be ‘why didn’t the council do something about it?’,” she said. Cr Barham said last week’s Bangalow Road fire only highlighted the council’s determination to seek regulation of holiday lets.


She said approved accommodation premises had to have stringent fire safety measures in place.


“We would like to have to have the same things in place for other tourist accommodation which is not regulated,” she said.


Byron Bay Fire Brigade captain Warren Simmons told The Northern Star last week that unauthorised backpacker hostels were a huge concern for firefighters.


Mr Simmons said it was not uncommon to have 10 people staying in a two-bedroom timber house which didn’t have safety features.


He described the situation as a tragedy waiting to happen.


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