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‘Heart wrenching’: Inner West grieves tragic Newtown fire, as police charge man with murder

A fire in a Newtown boarding house killed three people. Photo: Fire and Rescue NSW.


The Inner West community continues to grieve the tragic fire at a Newtown boarding house on Tuesday morning, which claimed the lives of three people.

Inner West Mayor Darcy Byrne said in a statement on Wednesday that the event was a “shocking tragedy”, calling for “a renewed effort to improve safety and living conditions in boarding houses”.

State Member for Newtown Jenny Leong called the event “heart wrenching”.

“I want to acknowledge and thank the incredible first responders that were here overnight, it sounds like, from what we’ve heard detailed here, an intense time in an area that is incredibly high density and has so many community members living basically on top of each other,” Ms Leong said.

“What we see behind us is the loss of people’s homes, boarding houses are transient places, but from all accounts, the majority of older men who were living in this boarding house had been there for relatively long periods of time for this kind of transitional housing, they were known to the community, people knew their faces and names and the impact of that is going to be significant.”

Police charge 45-year-old with three counts of murder

On Tuesday night, police charged 45-year-old man Richard Hotoran with three counts of murder after he allegedly set fire to the Newtown boarding house. Mr Hotoran was also charged with one count of destroying property by fire or explosion. His case was briefly heard before Central Local Court today.

Council records for the property showed that annual fire safety certification was up to date and in order. Cr Byrne has said that he will write to the Premier to propose a joint review from local and state government to “urgently re-examine” the regulation and management of boarding houses.

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