All go for new beginnings after fire
So grateful for all offers of help and accommodation after devastation
Grateful Wanaka grandmother Jolene Fitzharris, 76, is rebuilding her home after a fire in January destroyed many of her treasured mementos.
Fitzharris said last week she wanted to thank the many people who had been kind to her and offered her support or accommodation since the early morning blaze on January 20.
After all the attention, Fitzharris was reluctant to be photographed again but was willing to show the interior of her home so people could understand the devastating affects of a fire.
At first glance from the outside of her Matai Rd house, nothing much appeared wrong, she said.
The fire started in a downstairs logburner and quickly travelled up the chimney into the roof.
Her upstairs rooms were almost completely destroyed while the downstairs area suffered water damage.
Some of her belongings – including her 76-year-old teddy bear, a childhood prayer book, her family history and clothing – could be salvaged from her bedroom because the door had been closed.
Fitzharris said even though the items had no monetary value, they were important to her.
She was amazed her completed, final draft book of family history, printed on hundreds of pieces of A4 paper, had not been incinerated. ‘‘God is on my side,’’ she said. The keen scrapbooker has been busy collecting items for a new book about the fire.
‘‘This must be God’s way of saying I needed a new project,’’ she said.
She has been working for several weeks with her grandchildren, builders and her insurance company on rebuild plans and hopes they will be signed off soon.
‘‘I started planning on the second night [after the fire]. My hit list is solar power, an internal lift, relocate the stairs and turn the ensuite into a garage. I wanted my bedroom so I get more sun . . . When I get consent, watch this space,’’ she said.
email@example.com Rebuilding: Rising from the ashes – Wanaka house owner Jolene Fitzharris inspects the seat of a chimney fire in her home in January.
Fire survivor: Jolene Fitzharris’s 76-year-old teddy bear has been a companion since childhood.