Family safe after fire
Fire ravages Barooga home; fire alarms save lives
A young family was lucky to make it out alive as fire swept through and completely destroyed a Barooga home early Thursday.
Josh Drew and his partner Ellerose Walkington were sleeping when they were woken by a smoke alarm.
Mr Drew went to check what was happening, and quickly realised smoke was coming from the ceiling of the property.
The couple quickly grabbed daughter Isabella, 15 months, who was sleeping in a separate room, before grabbing their two pets and running from the house.
In a heart-wrenching situation, the couple watched the home burn after having spent the past year renovating it.
Barooga Rural Fire Service was first to respond, assisted by Cobram Fire Brigade, Tocumwal Fire and Rescue, Tocumwal police and Cobram ambulance.
Barooga RFS captain Wayne Smith said the blaze, which completely destroyed the weatherboard home, took responding crews a short while to extinguish.
‘‘We got the call-out at about 1 am and when we arrived the house was well alight and took us around 20 minutes to get under control,’’ he said.
Mr Smith said the critical intervention of smoke alarms in alerting the family to the danger served as a timely reminder to other people in the community.
‘‘All I can say is thank God they had functional smoke detectors in the house because I think if they didn’t the outcome could have been a lot worse,’’ he said.
‘‘It’s a great message for the public — please don’t take smoke detectors for granted, make sure they’re working and check them regularly.’’
There were no suspicious circumstances surrounding the blaze.
After losing just about everything but the clothes on their backs, a young Barooga family must start the painstaking process of rebuilding their lives from scratch.
Josh Drew and his partner Elle-rose Walkington watched on in horror as their family home, which they had spent a year refurbishing, was engulfed by flames and completely ravaged.
Unfortunately, the couple did not have content insurance for the home.
With 15-month-old daughter Isabella to look after, the couple will need the whole community’s support in the coming weeks.
Speaking on the family’s behalf, Mr Drew’s sister Meg said the distressing incident had left the entire family devastated.
‘‘There were some very sentimental items from Elle’s side of the family, which had been kept for generations, which Josh was particularly gutted about,’’ she said.
‘‘They stood out there on the side of the road and watched their house burn; I don’t think you can get much worse than that.
‘‘It was heartbreaking for them to watch all their hard work in renovating the place go up in flames.’’
While few, if any, positives can be salvaged from such a horrible situation, Ms Drew said the support the Barooga community had shown the family was warmly appreciated by Mr Drew and Ms Walkington.
‘‘They’re extremely appreciative of all the support that has been given to them. The whole town has rallied around them which has been pretty incredible to witness and they are both feeling the love,’’ Ms Drew said.
‘‘I know they went past the house the other day and tried to see if anything was salvageable and people were just walking past and offering kind words and lending a hand where they could.’’
As a way of trying to help the young couple and their child get back on their feet and rebuild their lives, Ms Drew decided to start a gofundme page.
‘‘That was my idea and that came about as soon as Josh told me he had no content insurance. I woke up to videos from Josh that showed the house in flames and I was in a bit of disbelief to be honest.
‘‘Funnily enough, I think Josh got home at about 4.30 am and went to work the next morning. I think he just wanted to take his mind off what had just happened.’’
The fire was just two days before Mr Drew’s 21st birthday.
Ms Drew said it was incredible to think how quickly a life could be turned on its head.
‘‘I remember having a conversation with Josh and I asked him what he wanted for his birthday and he said nothing, he said he already had everything he needed,’’ she said.
‘‘And then virtually the next day they had nothing. It doesn’t get much more devastating than that.’’
● If you would like to contribute toward helping the young family rebuild their lives, you can donate by typing ‘Home lost — house fire’ in the search bar on the gofundme website. Barooga Rural Fire Service has also distributed some donation tins around town, including at Fee’s Coffee House, Barooga BP, Barooga IGA and the Barooga Hotel if you would like to contribute that way.
Carnage: A young family is lucky to be alive after a fire ravaged a Barooga home early Thursday.
Gone: The house (above and below) was completely destroyed by the blaze.
Family together: Josh Drew and his partner Elle-rose Walkington with their daughter Isabella.
Scary: The cot in Isabella’s room was miraculously intact following the blaze.