Family thank their luck after fire

By ILONA HANNE

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Luke, Trent, Kathryn and Cole stand in the burned out garage, where the fire started.
Luke, Trent, Kathryn and Cole stand in the burned out garage, where the fire started.

"We are really lucky. Everyone got out safely, what we have lost is only material stuff."

Trent Mischefski is incredibly positive when talking about the house fire last Wednesday night which tore through the home he, his wife Kathryn and their two sons, Cole, 13, and Luke, 9, live in on Warwick Rd.

"It could have been so much worse, but thanks to the fast reaction of the fire crews, plus Kathryn's quick thinking in the first moments, it is nowhere near as bad as it could have been."

It may be nowhere as bad as it could have been, but walking through the house a couple of days later the damage is clear.

From the acrid smell of smoke which has crept into every room, to the water drenched carpets and bedding, the blackened walls, the caved in ceilings and, everywhere you look, melted toys and burnt out gadgets.

Cole and Luke's rooms are completely gutted, as is the garage where the fire started. Initial investigations suggest an electrical fault in the ceiling of the garage started the fire, which then spread through the ceiling of the house as well as dropping down into the garage and through the wall into the boys' rooms.

Kathryn and nine-year-old Luke were home alone when the fire started.

"We could hear a beeping noise," says Kathryn, "but we were watching a movie in the other end of the house. We put it on mute and could still hear the beeping, so thought it was an alarm clock or something. Luke and I went through the house trying to identify the noise."

The door to the garage was closed, but the sound was clearly coming from there.

Melted pegs, still on the washing line in the garage.
Melted pegs, still on the washing line in the garage.

"I touched the door, it wasn't hot, but I was confident it must be the smoke alarm going off, there was nothing else in the garage which might make that noise," says Kathryn.

"I told Luke there was a fire, and to get out."

The sensible youngster knew what to do in a fire, thanks to Trent and Kathryn having talked to both boys about safety plans in the past.

"I went out the window," he says, "because in a fire you can go through any safe exit, not just a door."

Once safely outside, he ran "up the hill" to the neighbours "so they could come and help".

And help they did, Trent and Kathryn say they are really grateful to neighbours Damien Ranclaud and Megan Austin who used a garden hose to help douse the fire.

I thought it would just be the frame of the house left standing, so I was pleased when I got here and saw the walls and everything. It is just our stuff which is gone, not the house.
Cole Mischefski

Meanwhile Kathryn was calmly exiting the house, closing each door on the way. Her actions are possibly the reason the fire stayed contained mainly in one end of the house.

"I knew that would help slow the fire down. Then I grabbed my handbag, and all the documents and got out while I was on the phone to the fire brigade."

In one of the many "strokes of luck" the Mischefski family identify, Kathryn and Trent had just a few days beforehand sorted out all their important documents into one easy to grab file.

The phone call from Kathryn, telling him their family home was on fire, was one he will never forget, says Trent.

"I was at work, on night shift, and I could hardly believe what I was hearing."

"I was surprised he answered the phone, normally it goes to voicemail when he is at work," says Kathryn, adding she told him not to drive back too fast, "as there wasn't anything he could do anyway".

Cole's room was badly damaged in the fire.
Cole's room was badly damaged in the fire.

Meanwhile, Cole was at a friend's house. When his mum called and told him the house had caught fire, he expected to come home and see a burnt out shell.

"I thought it would just be the frame of the house left standing, so I was pleased when I got here and saw the walls and everything. It is just our stuff which is gone, not the house."

Just like their parents, Cole and Luke both identify their "luck" in the fire. "We can replace our stuff, and all the animals are okay," says Cole.

The fire spread through the roof quickly.
The fire spread through the roof quickly.

One of the items which will hopefully be on the list for replacement is Cole's computer. He had saved for a year to buy it, earning money mowing the lawns and doing other jobs to be able to afford a "pretty expensive" gaming computer. He proudly bought it just a few weeks ago, but the fire has destroyed it. Luke's PlayStation was another casualty of the fire, along with all the boys' books and most of their toys.

Cole's new school uniform, which was in the wardrobe ready for him to start his first year at Stratford High School this week, will "hopefully be okay with a few washes to get the smoke smell out", says Kathryn. She has yet to check the state of her wedding dress which was also in a wardrobe in one of the boys' rooms.

In the garage, much has been ruined. Trent's older son Craig, 22, had some of his gym equipment there and the family car was written off with parts melting during the fire.

"We could still hear the smoke alarm, hours after the fire, still beeping," says Trent, who adds they found it melted onto the roof of the car.

"It had dropped off the ceiling but was still going."

Having the smoke alarms certainly alerted the family to the fire in good time, says Kathryn. "That is where we are so lucky, we had working alarms, and the fire started early in the evening. If it had started later when the boys were in bed, it could have been much worse."

The family are now sorting out their insurance.

"We can't say thank you enough to all the people who have been so kind, so helpful," says Kathryn.

"We are really lucky to live in a community where everyone cares, so many people have offered help already. Our neighbourhood watch group, people we work with, the kids' friends' parents, everyone. We are really fortunate to have family and friends around us helping."

It seems to be a family trait, to look for the positives, where many people would struggle to see them. "We have somewhere to stay, we have friends and family who are helping us, we have insurance, and we are all safe. We can't ask for more than that," says Trent.

- Stratford Press

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