Mt Druitt - St Mary's Standard (East) - - FRONT PAGE - Alison Bald­ing

TRA­CIE Re­falo is just putting one foot in front of the other as she comes to terms with the dev­as­tat­ing loss of her home just weeks be­fore Christ­mas.

Ev­ery­thing she and her 12 chil­dren owned was de­stroyed when the pri­vate house she rented on Mer­ca­tor Cres at Will­mot was sev­erly dam­aged by fire last week. Some of the prized pos­ses­sions lost in­cluded her el­dest daugh­ter’s re­cent ‘sweet 16’ can­vasses signed by school friends, her son’s beloved Lego and her twin daugh­ters’ doll house and My Lit­tle Pony col­lec­tion.

“I had al­most fin­ished the Christ­mas shop­ping. I just had a lit­tle bit to get and then I was go­ing to start wrap­ping them,” Ms Re­falo said.

“I don’t know how I will do it but some­how my ba­bies will still have presents at Christ­mas.”

Ms Re­falo said she was in­side the house with her aunt, a friend and her ninemonth-old daugh­ter when they no­ticed smoke com­ing from her four-year-old twin girls’ room.

She said she kicked the door open be­cause it was jammed.

“I know that prob­a­bly let air in and made the fire worse but when you have kids, you have to check,” Ms Re­falo said.

With all chil­dren ac­counted for in the front­yard, Ms Re­falo be­gan to worry about the fam­ily’s pets.

Un­for­tu­nately, the fire was so in­tense noth­ing could be done to save the fam­ily’s birds, lizards and fish, but dogs Kujo and Bud­dha man­aged to es­cape.

A third stafford­shire ter­rier, Rain, is still miss­ing but is not be­lieved to have per­ished in the fire.

Po­lice are in­ves­ti­gat­ing the fire but are not treat­ing it as sus­pi­cious.

Ms Re­falo said she be­lieved an elec­tri­cal fault was to blame be­cause she had pre­vi­ously re­ported prob­lems with the power points.

The 32-year-old is no stranger to start­ing from scratch. About 18 months ago the fam­ily’s for­mer hous­ing com­mis­sion home at Shalvey was set alight in an ar­son at­tack when no one was home.

“That was dev­as­tat­ing as well but none of us were home when that fire hap- pened. It ab­so­lutely breaks my heart to know my ba­bies saw this house burn­ing,” Ms Re­falo said.

She said she was “just so thank­ful” no one was hurt in the blaze and grate­ful for the sup­port she had re­ceived from friends and fam­ily, and her real es­tate agents.

Ms Re­falo said she was over­whelmed by the gen­eros­ity ex­pressed on The Stan­dard Face­book page from peo­ple want­ing to help but was con­cerned a few peo­ple had taken ad­van­tage by tak­ing do­na­tions that were never passed on.

If any­one would like to help, they can phone Ms Re­falo on 0420 737 877.

Main pic­ture: CARMELA ROCHE

Tra­cie Re­falo and her 12 chil­dren, in­clud­ing Vaimoana (front) and Losa, Jaime Lee and Nua, have been left with next to noth­ing just be­fore Christ­mas af­ter a dev­as­tat­ing fire tore through their Will­mot property last week; (inset) fire­fight­ers mop up af­ter the blaze.

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