Devastating Whiskey Au Go Go Fire Bombing Recalled Four Decades On

19/08/2015 10:10 AM AEST | Updated 15/07/2016 12:50 PM AEST

It was Australia's deadliest fire bombing and the worst mass murder of its time. Countless lives were shattered as 15 people died -- but four decades on, what of the firefighters who rushed into the flames?

Around 100 people were inside Brisbane club Whiskey Au Go Go when the club was torched in the early hours March 8, 1973, as two large drums of petrol were ignited in the venue's foyer.

The emergency service personnel ran through the thick black smoke helped patrons escape and who watched the 15 bodies laid out on the pavement outside.


Fire at the Whiskey Au Go Go (Supplied/Queensland Government).

Queensland's Fire and Emergency Services department tracked down several firefighters who responded to the blaze, putting together a moving video showing how the men are still affected to this day by the horror and carnage they witnessed more than four decades ago.

"It was more death than I’d seen in my career in the fire service," said Arnold Eggins.

"There was no fire, only smoke... The building was totally filled with smoke. We were all wearing breathing apparatus, visibility was next to nil."

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Errol Fancourt broke down on camera as he recalled seeing corpses piling up outside.

"The 15 bodies laid out in a row, all covered in the white sheets. That memory has never left me," he said, fighting back tears.

Eggins called it "the most distressing thing I’ve ever witnessed in my life."


Emergency services crews outside the devastated Whiskey Au Go Go (Supplied/Queensland Government).

The Whiskey Au Go Go fire was later found to be the work of organised crime figures in the Brisbane underworld, linked to earlier attacks on other Brisbane clubs Torino's and Chequers. The doors and exits of the Whiskey had been smeared with grease, making escape nearly impossible.

James Richard Finch and John Andrew Stuart were later convicted of arson and murder over the fire bombing. A memorial plaque was installed outside the Whiskey Au Go Go, on Amelia Street, in March this year.

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