Workers horrified by inferno; Fire rips through business complex.


Byline: Ashley Carter

WORKERS at the Maroochydore business complex that was destroyed by a massive fire on Friday morning watched on as firefighters salvaged what they could.

The complex at Trinder Ave was well-alight just after 2am, with firefighters battling the blaze until early afternoon.

Acting Maroochydore Area Commander Geoff Hunter said smoke and flames were billowing from the building when crews arrived.

"We've had 37 firefighters on scene and police have evacuated three houses at the rear of the building in case of smoke travel and structural collapse," he said.

"With the heat inside, there was always that possibility that the building may suffer structural collapse.

"Just on daylight the wind picked up ... increased the fire volume again."

A Queensland Fire and Emergency Services spokesman said the flames were under control by about 4.05am, but crews stayed for hours to dampen down hot spots.

"That's quite a long time fighting fires," he said.

Witnesses reported the owner of Sunland TV Service, which was most affected by the fire, was extremely upset by the situation.

He reportedly attempted to gain access to his store, having to be escorted away by firefighters.

"He came here and he looked quite devastated, and he was escorted away from the scene," Mr Hunter said.

"Obviously he wanted to get close to it, which he couldn't do in case he got injured.

"He was quite upset."

The TV repair store and a hydraulics centre were completely gutted in the fire, and the adjoining St Vincent de Paul centre was extremely damaged.

A Vinnies staffer was too emotional to speak publicly about the incident, but her husband, Aubrey, said the loss was devastating, especially at Christmas time.

Aubrey was watching the news about 6.30am and recognised his wife's workplace instantly.

The couple rushed to Trinder Ave to find a chaotic scene with more than 30 firefighters, police officers, paramedics and the media.

"The fire was out by the time I got here," he said.

"(Firefighters) have done...

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