‘WE’VE LOST EV­ERY­THING’

Fam­ily left with noth­ing af­ter house fire

Port Douglas & Mossman Gazette - - FRONT PAGE - HOLLY ROBERT­SON

THE joy of win­ning a plasma tele­vi­sion has turned into despair for a Moss­man fam­ily af­ter they lost ev­ery­thing in a blaze be­lieved to have been sparked by the prize.

Colleen and Char­lie Brischetto watched in horror as their fam­ily home of 35 years went up in smoke on Sun­day.

“We lived in it all our mar­ried life, our kids grew up there and all our mem­o­ries are there,” Mrs Brischetto said.

A pan­icked 000 call from a neigh­bour al­tered au­thor­i­ties to the fire, but Mrs Brischetto claimed the fire bri­gade did not show up for 45 min­utes.

Fam­ily mem­bers stepped in to fill the void, us­ing gar­den hoses to fight the flames.

Port Dou­glas aux­il­iary fire chief Louie Leone said when emer­gency crews ar­rived about 3pm, the blaze

had been largely con­tained.

“The fire was pretty much con­fined to the liv­ing room and it only took a few sec­onds for the ar­riv­ing crew to put it out,” he said.

“There was ex­ten­sive heat and smoke dam­age to the rest of house.”

Toxic as­bestos roof­ing means any items not charred and black­ened will also be ren­dered un­us­able.

“We’ve lost ev­ery­thing,” Mrs Brischetto said.

“We might be able to save a cou­ple of pieces of fur­ni­ture from one room. A lot of stuff is ir­re­place­able, like pho­tos and things.”

The Brischetto’s son, Vince, who lives in Western Aus­tralia, bought the house from his par­ents three years ago.

“He was just thank­ful we were all right,” she said.

The fam­ily has home in­surance but their con­tents were not pro­tected and they will have to re­place ev­ery­thing from their own pocket.

“I’m try­ing to hold my head up high,” Mrs Brischetto said.

As the own­ers of the lo­cal taxi com­pany, the fam­ily is well known to Moss­man res­i­dents.

They have had a string of bad luck, with the taxi com­pany lan­guish­ing on the mar­ket for months and Char­lie’s di­ag­no­sis with Parkin­son’s dis­ease.

“I vir­tu­ally run it by my­self be­cause my hus­band has Parkin­son’s and he gets very tired at night,” she said.

“What would re­ally make me happy is if some­one walked into town to­mor­row and bought the taxi busi­ness.”

Mrs Brischetto thanked her neigh­bours who di­alled 000 and lo­cal Gor­don Pringle, who pitched in to try save the house with a gar­den hose and saved her pet minia­ture poo­dle, Bella.

Mr Leone said res­i­dents did a great job fight­ing the fire but cau­tioned against get­ting too close.

“Good Sa­mar­i­tans shouldn’t take any un­nec­es­sary risks fight­ing fires where old houses have as­bestos present,” he said.

“In­hal­ing the smoke from a fire is not good, but in­hal­ing smoke from as­bestos is even worse.”

The Brischet­tos are con­sid­er­ing pur­su­ing a com­pen­sa­tion claim against the tele­vi­sion man­u­fac­tur­ers but the cause of the fire is still be­ing de­ter­mined.

Queens­land Fire and Res­cue Ser­vice Cairns Area Com­mand act­ing su­per­in­ten­dent Dar­ren Welsh could not be con­tacted for com­ment in re­la­tion to the al­leged lengthy re­sponse time by the fire bri­gade.

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