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Community helps out family after house fire

The rental house in Martinborough was declared a write-off after it was severely damaged by fire. PHOTO/FILE

TOM TAYLOR
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Martinborough has wrapped support around a family after a fire left their rental home in tatters.

Brett McCall and his four young boys lost many of their belongings, including clothes, food, and kitchen appliances, in a fire on August 27.

In the week after the fire, property owner Joe Howells had set up a Givealittle page to help the family get back on their feet.

By the time of publication, $5000 had been donated to the family through the page.

The fire broke out on the morning of August 27 and had engulfed the house on Broadway St by the time emergency services arrived.

Five fire trucks from the Martinborough, Featherston, Greytown, and Masterton brigades attended the fire but could not save the house.

Howells said all tenants were out of the house at the time of the fire.

The house had since been demolished.

“It was a hazard, with loose iron in the wind,” Howells said. “It really was a mess.”

Howells lived around the corner from the rental property and knew where the smoke was coming from as soon as he saw it.

“I shot around the corner and down the road, and I could see the brigade was already there. Flames were leaping out the windows. My first reaction was, ‘My God, I hope there’s no one in that place.’ That’s the main thing, that nobody was hurt. Property can be replaced.”

McCall and his family had moved into temporary accommodation in Martinborough after the fire and were now looking for a permanent place to stay.

Howells had set up the Givealittle page to help the family replace their clothes and household goods.

“I was quite pleased – I hadn’t used Givealittle before and I was pretty amazed at the community response.”

The Martinborough Lions Club, of which Howells was a member, donated $500 to boost donations up to the target of $5000.

“It’s the sort of thing that a service club should help out with: a family in need where an unforeseen event has come across their path and put them in a difficult situation,” Howells said.

Howells had bought the property as a strategic business investment but had not insured the house.

“While we would rather that the house was still there, the fact that it’s not is not a major loss for us. We’ll move on, and figure out what to do next with the site.”

Martinborough fire chief Jake Hawkins said the fire had quickly gutted the interior of the house and burned the roof cavity.

“It appeared to be a fault in the flue on the chimney,” Hawkins said. “It looked as though the heat shield had been getting very hot up against the back of the wall, and it caused the wall to catch fire.”

McCall said the community’s support had given his family hope.

“Thank you to Joe and to all those who have donated,” McCall said. “We are extremely grateful.”

  • To donate, visit givealittle.co.nz/cause/family-struggling-after-a-house-fire

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