SHOP owner Adeel Khan has told the Pakistani consul the fatal fire in his Rozelle convenience store was started by a “gas cylinder”.
A source close to the diplomat told The Daily Telegraph Mr Khan denied responsibility for the triple tragedy during the consul’s visit to his RPA hospital bedside.
“He said: ‘I didn’t do anything, I don’t know what happened, I am very upset, I have sympathy with the people who lost their lives’,” the source said. Mr Khan has been moved from the intensive care unit to a regular hospital ward.
The Daily Telegraph can also reveal the owners of the Rozelle convenience store were up to date with their rent payments and did not have any “personal issues” with landlord Hariklia Mystakas.
“There’s been no issues there,” managing agent Paul Cooper said when asked about the couple’s rental position.
“There was no personal issues between the Mystakas family and the shop owners.”
Police last night said the demolition of 625 Darling St would begin today and warned of continued traffic congestion in the area.
“We will be reviewing the risks associated with the site and wherever possible reducing the impact on the community. This will include re-opening footpaths, roads and continuing to reduce the exclusion zone where it is safe to do so,” a police spokesman said.
The building destroyed by a huge blast last Thursday was renovated just six months ago and the flat where Chris Noble died was recently fitted with a new kitchen and bathroom.
“I shudder to think what Mum will be like when she sees it,” the owner’s son, Steven Mystakas, said.
“She just had it renovated, making it all perfect so she could get an income from it.
“It was a solid building — nothing, not even an earthquake, could have knocked that thing down.
“The fact that it just crumbled like matchsticks is suss.”
Meanwhile, inner-west businesswoman Cherie Barber has approached The Daily Telegraph with a pledge of $10,000 for John O’Brien.
Mr O’Brien lost his wife Bianka and one-year-old son Jude in the explosion.
“I earn good money,” Ms Barber said.
“I’ve been a resident of Balmain for 15 years, so it’s close to home.
“I’m a mother and I couldn’t imagine his pain at losing not only his son but his wife.