Father, daughter seek place to call home after fire

'We've still got each other, now we need somewhere to live...' James Winter and his daughter Janae. Photo / Stephen Jaquiery
'We've still got each other, now we need somewhere to live...' James Winter and his daughter Janae. Photo / Stephen Jaquiery

Milton man James Winter just wants one thing by the end of this week - a place for him and his daughter to call home.

Mr Winter and Janae (7) lost everything in a fire at their rented Burns St bungalow on Monday afternoon and now face an uncertain few days as they try to find somewhere to live.

After stoking the log burner in his lounge and letting it settle, Mr Winter went next door for a "cuppa" with a neighbour before he was to walk the two blocks to St Mary's School to pick up Janae.

Within 10 minutes, the smoke alarms went off and Mr Winter rushed back home to discover the house on fire.

Mr Winter was told the fire was started by a spark landing in the wood box. He urged all people with log burners to ensure their wood supply was placed on the opposite side to the door opening.

Janae is a year 3 pupil at St Mary's, where a collection is slowly building for the Winters, but the donations of household items still need a home - much like the Winters.

"The hardest thing for us is to try and find them accommodation in Milton," St Mary's principal Diane Hayes said.

The school, with a roll of 92 pupils this year, has been rocked by three house fires within its community in the past two years, and Mrs Hayes said the supplies for helping out the Winters were getting low.

"The members of the school have really gone out there to help them, but there's only so much to give, isn't there?" Mrs Hayes said.

Mr Winter and his daughter are staying in a motel until the end of the week, thanks to the support of the Mount Zion Church, but after that, things are looking dire.

"I don't want to have to relocate her heaps by settling her down for a couple of weeks and then moving her - routine for Janae is a big part of her life," he said.

The school's immediate concern was to help Mr Winter find affordable rental accommodation, which was in short supply in Milton, Mrs Hayes said.

A member of the community has offered a sleepout with a bedroom, but it is not a long-term option and Mr Winter wants to rebuild the family life he had created with Janae since he gained custody when she was 1.

"To be honest with you, she's handling it a lot better than I am," he said.

"She's doing really well. Yesterday, she told me 'You and I have been through a lot, Dad'. I said, 'Yes we have' and she said 'Well, we will get through this together'."

Offers of help or accommodation could be made to St Mary's School, Mrs Hayes said.

- Otago Daily Times

Get the news delivered straight to your inbox

Receive the day’s news, sport and entertainment in our daily email newsletter

SIGN UP NOW

© Copyright 2016, NZME. Publishing Limited

Assembled by: (static) on production apcf05 at 01 Oct 2016 06:59:21 Processing Time: 1157ms