Lynda Alexander, pictured with her son Hudson, 10, said she was grateful to emergency services for saving Highlands Dry Cleaning – a business that has been in her family for 94 years. Photo by Victoria LeeTHE swift work of local emergency services saved a near 100-year-old family business from tragedy last week.
Highlands Dry Cleaners, which has been in Lynda Alexander’s family for 94 years, sustained only minimal damage after a fire broke out at the Bowral business last Monday night.
Ms Alexander said the fire had started at about 9.30pm, after a tea towel with oily residue in it began to smoulder in a dryer.
“The dryer had completed its cycle hours earlier, and the tea towel had been washed in boiling hot water in a hospital grade machine, but unfortunately it caught fire,” she said.
“The dryer wasn’t going at the time of the fire, it had stopped about four hours prior to when the tea towels combusted.”
Ms Alexander, who bought the business from her parents 10 years ago, said she was incredibly grateful to the local police and fire departments for acting so quickly.
“By the time I got there the fire was out, and I was relieved to see there was no structural damage or damage to any of the dry cleaning machines,” she said.
“It was lucky that the fire was pretty much in line with the front door, so the firefighters were able to break through a door and contain the damage.”
It wasn’t long before it was business as usual at Highlands Dry Cleaners.
Within 24 hours the glass at the shopfront had been replaced and the clean up had begun.
Ms Alexander said three dryers in the front of the shop had been damaged, but replacements werealready on the way.
“As a business that really services the local community, from a service point of view we couldn’t afford to close – people have their gear in there and they’re relying on us to make that available to them and have their garments clean,” she said.
“The fire brigade acted so quickly – I’m so grateful to DavidArnot and JamesAustin who put out the fire, they were amazing [and] so were the police.”
Bowral Police Inspector John Klepczarek said quick action by all involved “minimised the damage, which could easily have been much worse”.
He said members of the public were quick to contact Triple Zero when they noticed smoke coming from the dry cleaning business.
“It was a very good community effort when members of the public quickly alerted authorities to the fire, and the response of Fire and Rescue NSW saw the blaze contained to one corner of the premises,” he said.
Ms Alexander said the incident had shown her how much support she had behind both her and her business.
“The local community has been so supportive and understanding, and my staff worked around the clock last week to make sure they could provide a service to our local community,” she said.
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