Family’s fire nightmare

Family’s fire nightmare

822
The gutted home on Hemingway Drive, Camillo. Photograph – Richard Polden.

After two years living and working in the state’s Mid-West, Chrissy Weller and her family decided to return home to Perth’s south-east.

But 24 hours later, the Camillo home she had purchased 14 years ago was reduced to ash and rubble – the family of four escaping with little more than the clothes on their backs.

A neighbour called triple zero at 7.28pm on Thursday, October 29, after spotting the fire from the street while taking his rubbish bins out.

Just an hour before, Chrissy’s 11-year-old son Jaxxon had left the Hemingway Drive home for a friend’s birthday and she and her partner had decided to go out for dinner.

But her mother Dianne, who had been living at the property for the last two years, was still inside.

A police officer on patrol spotted the fire and called for back up after being told the woman was still inside.

But officers were unable to gain access to the side of the residence – instead forcing entry via the garage.

The distressed grandmother was located in the backyard before being evacuated to safety over a fence – the frightening ordeal recorded through a police body camera.

Police body camera footage showing the moment officers rush through the house to assist grandmother Dianne Weller.

Chrissy returned home to find that the blaze had torn through the three-by-one in as little as 50 minutes, caused by a damaged extension cord powering a lamp in the front room.

The devastated family met investigators the following morning to find that hundreds of photographs, treasured family heirlooms and countless possessions had been lost.

“Everything my mother has ever owned was in that house,” Chrissy said.

“We’ve lost countless photographs and family heirlooms, the height markers from each of Jaxxon’s birthdays.

“Obviously we are devastated, but there’s an acceptance – that’s how we will move forward.

“We’re OK with material things having been lost, but the insurance could take a long time to come through.

“For the next six to eight weeks, it will be about those necessities – buying food, paying our bills, replacing our clothes and work and school uniforms.”

Though the house was insured, a GoFundMe page has since been set up for the family to purchase necessities and get through the coming months.

So far, more than $1800 has been raised.

“It was really traumatic, but we’re just so grateful,” she said.

“People have been amazing and we can’t thank the community enough for its generosity.

“We have donated to GoFundMe pages before – we just never think we’d need one ourselves.

“My message to others is to be safe; to move your power points or get more.

“Extension cords can be a convenient fix, but they can also be incredibly dangerous, even lethal, if they become damaged.”

To donate, visit gofundme.com/f/firesupportforfamily