More than 30 firefighters battled an early morning fire that destroyed the Marine Rescue Ulladulla base on Sunday.
Fire and Rescue NSW crews were called to Wason Street around 3.55am to find the nearby former abalone co-op building well alight.
A Fire and Rescue NSW spokesman said six crews from Ulladulla and Batemans Bay, supported by Rural Fire Service units, battled through toxic smoke to fight the fire, which then spread into the roof space of the neighbouring marine rescue building.
The fire was eventually extinguished four hours later.
The spokesman said no-one was hurt although ambulance crews were placed on standby and assisted one elderly man who suffered minor breathing difficulties as a result of the smoke in the air.
The cause of the fire at this stage is unknown.
Chair of the Ulladulla Fish Co-op, Mario Puglisi, was called to the scene but said the nearby fish co-op was not damaged.
‘‘It is terrible what has happened, especially for the coastal patrol who had just completed a new section,’’ Mr Puglisi said.
Mr Puglisi said it appeared the fire had been under control until an explosion reignited the blaze.
The old abalone co-op building was partly occupied by the volunteer organisation Gondwana Coast Fossil Walk, which was yesterday trying to count its losses.
Marine Rescue Ulladulla said it would continue to provide its vital safety services for the local boating community, despite the destruction of the unit’s base, which included a newly-opened $132,000 training room.
The unit’s vessels, including the new $650,000 Steber, Ulladulla 30, were not damaged.
Marine Rescue NSW Commissioner Stacey Tannos said the unit was currently operating its radio service from on board its rescue vessels.
“The Ulladulla Game Fishing Club, on the north shore of the harbour, has generously offered the unit the use of its radio room so our volunteers can continue providing their radio safety net for local boaters,” he said.
Boaters in the area should use their marine radios as usual to call Marine Rescue Ulladulla on VHF Channel 16 or 27 Meg Channel 88.
“I want to thank the fishing club for its support for our unit and the boating community. This shows great community spirit and is a good example of local organisations working together to respond to an emergency.
“MRNSW will also deploy one of our mobile communication units to supplement the radio service.
“This is a terrible blow for the members of Marine Rescue Ulladulla, who have been working tirelessly to raise the funds needed to continue upgrading their base.
‘‘The new training room, opened in May, had provided a range of meeting and education facilities, not only for our members but also the wider community.
“Building work was to have started shortly on the installation of a lift to the training room to extend its accessibility.”
Mr Tannos said he was confident the unit’s volunteers would continue their services.