IN THE space of less than an hour the Frith family had lost everything – their wedding photographs, the kid’s childhood mementos, birth certificates and, tragically, the family cat.
Thankfully Danielle Frith and her 2-year-old daughter, Zoe, had awoken from an afternoon nap shortly before a devastating inferno ripped through their Warners Bay home on Thursday afternoon.
As fire crews battled to control the blaze and prevent other houses catch alight Mrs Frith watched on, distraught.
“It was very traumatic,” she said.
“The heat of the fire melted everything, it tore right through my bedroom where I was asleep with Zoe.
“We only left the house just before one (o’clock) and then within half an hour the house’s gone up in flames.
“They told us that if Zoe and I were still in there we wouldn’t have had a chance to even wake-up.
“I think someone’s looking out for us that’s for sure.”
Tragically the family cat, Ella-bear, did not awake from his sleep on the same bed.
The four-year-old was lost in the flames.
The destructive blaze and loss of a loved one has further compounded a tough two years for the Frith family.
Mrs Frith is still recovering from complications arising from her pregnancy with Zoe.
She fractured her back, and has had three bouts of surgery over two years, the last of which was a spinal fusion in January.
“Life’s been really hard,” Mrs Frith said.
“My husband, Michael, had to leave work for six months so he could look after me and the kids.
“Because we didn’t have any money we’ve chewed through all our savings.
“[Michael] only just returned to work on Monday and I said to him then, ‘We need to ring up and get contents insurance now you’re back at work’.
“Then on Thursday the fire comes.”
Mrs Frith said an electrical short in the garage sparked the inferno, which ignited the various fuels stored in there.
“My husband builds boats and he had all different stuff in there – resin, glues, paints – and it was a just a spark and it engulfed the whole garage,” she said.
From there the fire moved quickly and with devastating consequence.
Fire crews arrived within minutes but could not do much to save the residence, instead battling to ensure the flames didn’t snare neighbouring houses.
“The spare bedroom is completely gone, all the kids’ rooms are gone, our lounge room’s completely gone, basically the whole house is gutted,” Mrs Frith said.
“It was [eldest child] Jaimy’s seventh birthday too. He’d got an electric scooter for his birthday so that’s the one thing that got him the most.
“Zoe wants her cabbage patch baby and she doesn’t understand what’s happened.
“That’s probably the hardest thing, trying to explain to the kids that I can’t get those things back for them. They’re all gone.
“Our wedding photos are all gone, all the kids’ keepsakes, things you want to have in 20 years time but you can’t.
“It’s the little things that hurt the most.”
The family have been renting the property for the last three years and had everything they own in the house.
Without insurance they are struggling to come to terms with what the future may hold for them.
The Newcatle Herald asked the Friths if they had a fund set up for any donations.
Anyone who wishes to help the family out during this difficult time can contact Michael’s brother, Macca, at firstname.lastname@example.org
“We’ve already had a lot of help come through in the form of clothing, basic furniture and toys for the kids,” he said.
“We’re thankful to the whole community, it’s been overwhelming, and any other help we can get is appreciated.”
Any excess items that are donated to the Friths will be forwarded to the Salvation Army.
Items the family lost included:
Michael’s wedding ring
Wedding and family photos
Family heirloom jewellery and furniture
Ella-bear (the family cat)
Jaimy and Zoe’s cabbage patch dolls they received from their great-grandparents at their birth
Kids’ birth certificates
Michael and Danielle’s wedding certificates
Michael’s boat he had been restoring
Disability aids, mobility toilet and shower seats, walking sticks, crutches needed during Danielle’s recovery
Supportive mattress and new lounges purchased for Danielle’s recovery
Jaimy’s birthday presents he had only just received
Michael’s fishing equipment and tools
Electronics and general household items