FAMILY LEFT WITH NOTHING
MOTHER OF 12 FORCED TO START FROM SCRATCH
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.
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.