Couple count blessings after fire

By Tracey Roxburgh

James Grant, his wife Katherina and their son Dominic say they are humbled by the support received from the Wakatipu community after their house went on fire. Photo / Tracey Roxburgh
James Grant, his wife Katherina and their son Dominic say they are humbled by the support received from the Wakatipu community after their house went on fire. Photo / Tracey Roxburgh

The Arrowtown couple left homeless after their rental property went up in smoke on Friday have been overwhelmed by the outpouring of support from the Wakatipu.

James Grant, 27, was working at Bob's Cove on Friday when the home he shared with his wife, Katherina, and eight-month-old son Dominic in Criterion St caught fire.

Mr Grant told the Otago Daily Times yesterday his employer ''caught wind of it'' and raced to the house to check on Mrs Grant and their son before returning to tell him the bad news.

While it was ''pretty stink'', Mr Grant said the couple had been left counting their blessings.

''We're very fortunate that my wife and son weren't home at the time. It could have been a lot worse; the fact that they're all right, that's the main thing.''

When the couple were allowed in to inspect the damage on Sunday, they found everything in the baby room was a ''write-off'' but they managed to salvage clothes from drawers in their bedroom and a commercial cleaner had managed to get most of the smell of smoke out.

Within two hours of the fire, a plea issued on social media by Mrs Grant's friend, Jo Sacre, started drawing an amazing response, Mr Grant said.

''We have been so fortunate ... there are so many people offering support and stuff to sort of get us through this pretty average time.''

That included Queenstown resident Matt Bennell, who organised a covered trailer and collected items from around the Wakatipu to deliver them to the couple.

Mr Bennell said along with toys, clothes, TVs, DVD players, cots and strollers, businesses had also been quick to offer assistance.

Fresh Choice supermarket was putting together a grocery basket for the young family, while the Arrowtown Four Square had given them vouchers and Betty's Liquor chipped in with a hamper. Extra Storage Queenstown had offered free storage while Jones Contracting in Arrowtown had also offered storage space.

Mr Grant, who has lived his whole life in Arrowtown, said he was grateful to people like Mr Bennell for their efforts.

''He didn't know me, or us, at all and he just took it upon himself to organise a whole bunch of stuff. We've just been really fortunate to have people like him doing what they're doing.''

Mr Grant said they had secured temporary accommodation and applied for more permanent rental houses over the weekend.

Fire Safety investigator Stu Ide said the entire property sustained smoke damage, with fire damage in the laundry area and ''right up through the roof''.

''It's a reasonable amount of damage ... it'll be out of action for a wee while.''

However, had it not been for two working smoke alarms, which alerted a passerby to the fire, the damage could have been far worse

''Smoke alarms in this instance helped prevent the damage from being any greater - another five minutes and we would have had a full-blown house fire going end-to-end.''

Mr Ide said the fire was centred on the clothes drier.

- Otago Daily Times

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