A FAMILY of seven has been forced in to emergency accommodation after fire destroyed their Carrum Downs rental property.
Rowan Wainwright-Smith, wife Nita, and five extended family members potentially lost everything in the overnight blaze on Sunday 12 July, caused when a bedside power board connected to an electric blanket burst into flames.
“We don’t know what we will do,” Mr Wainwright-Smith said. “We have got to find a place to stay because our support runs out tomorrow [Friday] night.
“We are allowing for the fact that everything we own that was not burnt is probably lost anyway through smoke and water damage.
“We still don’t know the condition of the house. We looked into the kitchen over the back fence and it looks relatively unscathed but, if you look at the property from the back, it’s all burnt out.”
The family is desperate to secure another rental property quickly, but calls to property managers have so far been unsuccessful.
The Cape Cod-style, two-storey brick and timber house was engulfed in flames around 3.30am, and the family feel they were lucky to escape with their lives.
The property in Frankston-Dandenong Rd is almost opposite the Carrum Downs CFA brigade station.
Mr Wainwright-Smith, who was sleeping just “arms-length away” from the power board said he roused with a start just as the fire took hold.
“Something woke me up with a jolt; I was hyper alert. Everything just kicked in as though I had been on speed for six hours,” he said.
“I jumped out of bed and tried to control the fire but I couldn’t so I opened the door just as Nita came running back from the kitchen where she had been making a late-night snack. I yelled ‘get out’”.
Other family members in adjoining rooms were up by this stage – alerted by the commotion – and rushing out of the house.
“Nita ran past the kitchen and turned the oven off and I ran out to the power box to turn off the electricity and then the smoke alarm went off.
“I turned on the hose and brought it back into the house squirting water everywhere but it was no use and so we all ran out the front door.”
Son Andrew made the emergency call to the CFA at 3.38am and the brigade was on the scene within five minutes.
By this stage the fire had entered the roof cavity and was almost unstoppable.
Mr Wainwright-Smith said the family was grateful their pets: two dogs, guinea pigs, rabbit and chooks were all safely evacuated, and medical treatment for second-degree burns to his hand was a small price to pay for the family’s safety in the emergency.
He praised the generosity of an unknown donor to Community Angels who gave the family a $1000 grocery voucher. “I respect the person’s right to privacy but I would like to thank them,” he said.
Carrum Downs CFA First Lieutenant Andrew Amad said investigations so far had indicated the power board was the source of the blaze.
He said the fire was a warning to residents to ensure they had working smoke alarms.