The McLean's Raceview home was badly damaged by fire and will likely have to be demolished.
The McLean's Raceview home was badly damaged by fire and will likely have to be demolished.

Family indebted to neighbours after devastating house fire

AN Ipswich family says they are indebted to their neighbours for the kindness and generosity they showed in the wake of a devastating house fire which will likely result in their home being demolished.

The McLean’s Raceview home was badly damaged in a fire last Friday with firefighters managing to bring the blaze under control within 15 minutes of arriving.

But the fire caused significant damage to the two-storey house on Rumsey Drive with the top level gutted.

Raceview house fire: Raceview resident Kathleen McLean walks through her house after it was badly damaged by fire on Friday, April 23.
Raceview house fire: Raceview resident Kathleen McLean walks through her house after it was badly damaged by fire on Friday, April 23.

Luckily the house was insured and neighbours and the wider Ipswich community came forward in droves to assist where they could and donate clothes, vouchers and toys to help the family through the tragedy.

Kathleen McLean was on the way home from an appointment in Brisbane with her son Alex when she got a call from a neighbour to alert her to what had happened.

The family are now staying in a motel and searching for a rental while final assessments are completed on the house.

Mrs McLean said she would have a better understanding of where everything is at on Thursday afternoon.

“The asbestos tester was there (on Wednesday),” she said.

“We don’t have the final official reports but he’s fairly confident there is asbestos in the place.

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“My understanding is it becomes quarantined and destroyed. We can’t salvage anything because of the possible asbestos contamination.

“My limited understand is that there is asbestos confirmed on the property that it must be knocked down and rebuilt, it can’t be repaired.

“We couldn’t take anything out of the house especially because assessors and everything hadn’t been through.

“Nothing upstairs, which is all the important stuff, was salvageable. The fireys just said don’t even bother.

In another blow, looters have targeted the damaged property with a welder, speakers and a GoPro camera all missing since the fire.

The McLean family home was badly damaged by fire on April 23.
The McLean family home was badly damaged by fire on April 23.

“It’s all a bit of a mess and hard to see exactly what’s missing,” Mrs McLean said.

“If it’s going to be quarantined because of asbestos it doesn’t matter what they took. It’s all going to have to be replaced anyway.

“We’re going OK. Just got to remember everyone is alive and well, no one was injured and the rest is replaceable. It’s all just possessions.”

Mrs McLean said the fire could have started from a heat lamp she bought new two weeks ago which was being used to warm some baby chickens in the top level of the house, or from an old computer.

The cause has yet to be confirmed.

“I don’t think there’s too much left in that room to test to be able to know definitely,” she said.

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Neighbours instantly jumped into action to do what they could to provide support moments after the house caught alight.

Mrs McLean said the family didn’t even know most of their names before the fire but they had been “completely overwhelmed” by the “wonderful community” around them.

The family has lived in their home for five years.

“I didn’t know their names but we just knew faces to wave to going in and out of the street,” she said.

“One lady, Robynne, took off while the fireys and everyone were still there to go and get the kids and I and (husband) Steven jammies for that night plus a set of trackies so we were covered for that first 24 hours.

“(Goodstart Early Learning Booval) have been phenomenal. They’ve been rallying around and getting stuff through all the Goodstarts in the area.

The McLean family. Kathleen, Alex, Lucas and Steven.
The McLean family. Kathleen, Alex, Lucas and Steven.

“They’ve also been a drop off point so they took the kids quickly for me on Friday so I could have a few hours to get insurance and everything underway.

“I couldn’t even fit (all the donations) in my car when I went to pick up the kids on Friday night from daycare to head to the motel.

“People have just been throwing cash at us. I’ve got a full wardrobe for the kids. People came to the motel to drop stuff off at reception.

“Some people showed up while we were there on Friday and dropped off a basket of stuff.”

It has been a tough week for the family but Mrs McLean said she was thankful they were covered by insurance and she will never forget the actions of her local community.

“It was something as simple as baby chickens,” she said.

Alex and Lucas in the motel.
Alex and Lucas in the motel.

“We took in some baby chickens and (the heater) is most likely what started the fire.

“Anything can happen.

“I had just bought new fire truck beds for the kids.

“Right now, honestly, we’re totally OK (for further donations).”

A Queensland Police Service spokeswoman said the burglary of the house after the fire is being investigated.

“No one has been arrested or charged in relation to this matter,” she said.

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