People rally after fire guts home
‘‘I was thinking slow down, I couldn't understand her. I started to get hysterical when she told me the house was on fire.’’
January 25th 2017 is a day that will always be etched in Ethel Wilson’s memory.
She, her husband Mac and their family were left homeless after a fire destroyed their rental home on Inaka Place.
While losing a home is a tragedy, the real terror was the hour or so that she thought her five-year-old moko, Justyce was inside the home as it burned.
Ethel started her day just like any other. She had gone to work at Inghams, where she works in the laundry department.
She received news of the fire from her daughter, Weta.
‘‘I don’t take my phone on the premises - but I did that day. I don’t know how she remembered my number.
‘‘I was thinking slow down, I couldn’t understand her. I started to get hysterical when she told me the house was on fire.’’
Ethel jumped straight into the car and drove to Inaka Place.
‘‘I saw the smoke from the main road and it hit me.’’
It was at this time she was told by Weta that she thought Justyce was still in the house.
‘‘I was so scared, when I approached her, she was hysterical because they thought they didn’t get him out, and dropped to the ground.’’
The family went through 45 minutes of pure terror until Ethel’s nephew Willie Joe arrived with Justyce.
‘‘He (Willie Joe) didn’t know if Justyce got out but knew where he goes to play, so thought to go and have a look. He was playing down the street.
‘‘He said here he is, and I just grabbed him.
‘‘He didn’t know what he was doing, he saw the fire and ran away.
‘‘I was so pleased he wasn’t in I just that house. That would have been the worst part to lose any members of my family.’’
The family have since been living in a tent on the property of Mac’s eldest daughter and her partner.
‘‘I don’t know how many times my mattress got wet,’’ she said.
The Matamata community quickly came to the aid of the family with offerings of household items and clothing via the Matamata community buy and sell page. It was a gesture that surprised Ethel.