Fire victims: 'People offered us their house'
AN IPSWICH couple's tears of despair have turned to tears of gratitude following an outpouring of community support - but the mission is still on to find them a new house.
A visibly shattered Brooke Brown and her partner Kieran Murray told the Queensland Times they had only just moved into their Leichhardt home two weeks ago after enduring an extended rough patch in which they'd lived in emergency housing with their three young children.
After working a 12-hour day on the Sunshine Coast, Mr Murray received a frantic phone call from his partner just after 4.30 on Wednesday afternoon, telling him that there house was on fire.
"She had only called me a few minutes earlier to tell me that she was settling down for the afternoon and the kids were all playing," Mr Murray said.
"Twenty minutes later she called again, hysterical.
"We finally got our own house and then this happens.
"It really sucks. All this stuff you work so hard for and it's gone. But the worst part about it is that we've lost the kids' photos and baby clothing. They are things money can't replace."
Ms Brown tried to fight the fire, but by the time she'd run outside to get water, the fire had spread from a bed to the entire front room.
Despite the efforts of a neighbour to get a hose onto the fire, the house had been consumed in a matter of minutes.
Luckily, Ms Brown and her three children, aged 2, 4, and 8, escaped unharmed.
But the family lost everything it owned, apart from what clothes they had on and their vehicles.
It is believed the couple's four-year-old son had accidentally started the fire after climbing onto the top of a fridge and taking some matches.
The house is no longer under police guard and the cause has been deemed non-suspicious.
Offers of support for the stricken family flooded in almost from the moment the flames died down, with Mr Murray saying the generosity of the community had helped lift his spirits.
"People have even offered to move out of their homes so we can move in," he said.
"It's incredible how nice some people are when you don't even know them.
"We had offers of beds, mattresses, washing machines and fridges. We've got enough stuff to fill another house, but we need to find a house first."
Mayor Paul Pisasale also met with the couple yesterday and offered clothing and other essentials for the children.
Louie Naumovski of Logan House Fire Support Network has offered a warning to Ipswich residents after the cause of the blaze which destroyed the Crosshill St home was revealed.
Mr Naumovski said the suspected cause of the Leichhardt house fire was two of the family's young children playing with matches.
He said small children unknowingly starting fires was an all too common occurrence.
"It's a timely reminder to put matches and lighters away so kids can't reach them and to teach your kids what's a toy and what's not," Mr Naumovski said.
"The mum was with the two-year-old out the front and the two boys, aged about seven and five were mucking around.
"They've found an ignition source and within 10 minutes the house was totally alight."
Mr Naumovski said April and May was the most common time of the year for fires.
"The next two months are out busiest times of the year.
"Kids will be kids but it's a reminder to make sure that all ignition sources are away from arm's reach."
He said many donations were received for the family.