Support flows in after huge fire
‘‘It's hard to think when everything is gone’’
It only took minutes for Muaau and Vasati Lopati’s home to be engulfed by flames, but the speed with which the Porirua community came to their aid has been just as overwhelming.
The Lopatis lost everything when a fire destroyed their Cannons Creek home on Thursday.
As soon as their plight hit the headlines, kind-hearted souls rallied and filled a storage unit with household items.
‘‘I’ve never gone through anything like this before,’’ Muaau Lopati said.
‘‘The support has been flowing in, but we haven’t been able to receive it all yet. A lady from [the suburb of] Whitby paid for a storage unit for us, just so kind - it’s overwhelming.’’
The couple have already been given a lounge suite, a bed, a table and chairs, a microwave, and other cooking appliances, along with bags of clothes.
Muaau Lopati said others had wanted to donate money, so they were looking at starting a Givealittle page.
‘‘But we haven’t got to it yet. Our Apple computer was in the fire too,’’ he said.
The woman who co-ordinated the community goodwill wanted to remain anonymous, but said Facebook had enabled her to gather support so speedily.
‘‘I saw the story and just thought it was so terrible. They didn’t have insurance and were renting, and I know how tough it can be to come back from that,’’ she said.
‘‘The community got together on the local Facebook page and were asking for an address to send it all, so I thought ‘I have a ute, I’ll collect all the big-ticket items and put them in storage’.’’
Fire investigators said the cause of the blaze was an electrical fault in the lounge, the same room Vasati Lopati tried desperately to fight the flames leaping up the walls.
‘‘I tried my best to put it out but when I saw the fire getting higher I just had to run - it was so fast,’’ she said.
‘‘I’m still so lost, it’s hard to think when everything is gone. I keep remembering things that we have lost, family things and pictures, guitars. I had savings of two grand which is gone too.’’
Porirua fire investigator Russell Postlewaight said the Lopatis had a working smoke alarm, which allowed Vasati Lopati, and children staying at the house, to escape uninjured.
‘‘The severity of the fire in the lounge was so [strong] that, at that end of the house, it would have been unsurvivable.’’
At one point, the fire got so bad that the officer in charge had called for a full second team to help.
Anyone wanting to help the Lopati family can contact the Salvation Army on (04) 235 8327.