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.

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