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Blaze rips through Sydney carpark

Monday 14 Oct 2013 12:14 p.m.

Burnt out vehicles line the carpark next to the Olympic Park Aquatic Centre (AAP)

Burnt out vehicles line the carpark next to the Olympic Park Aquatic Centre (AAP)

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A discarded cigarette is believed to be the cause of a blaze which destroyed 43 cars parked at a Sydney swimming complex on the weekend.

More than 1500 people were evacuated from the Olympic Park Aquatic Centre yesterday afternoon, after a grass fire spread to the carpark.

''I could hear explosions every 20 minutes - there were either tyres popping or petrol tanks exploding," witness Todd Fordham told the Sydney Morning Herald. ''There was a bit of smoke and it just got bigger and bigger… It was pretty scary."

Three people were treated for smoke inhalation, but it could have been much worse.

Nicola Tonuri's daughter was at the centre competing in swimming races when the blaze took hold. She told the paper the fire was only 20m away from where some of the swimmers were gathering between races.

They ran to their car, afraid of being burned or hurt by tyres "popping like fireworks".

"Luckily we were both safe, but I had friends whose cars were damaged or destroyed."

She called people inside the venue to tell them what was happening before the official call to evacuate was made.

"Cars can be replaced, but it could have been potentially so much worse," says Ms Tonuri.

The exact cause remains unknown, but it's suspected a smouldering cigarette is to blame.

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