Toys, food, vouchers and newly-knitted blankets are just some of the items that have been donated to help a family of six who lost everything in a fire which gutted their home.

Gordon and Janneke Gilligan's family home, a renovated Kauri villa, on Awakino Rd went up in flames on Saturday about 2am.

Miriam Guthrie, who is a friend of the family and lives about five houses away, was awoken by her son who told her there was a fire up the road.

"When I saw the glow I thought 'we've got friends up there, in that area'. I put my gumboots on and went up there, I was gobsmacked," she said.


Ms Guthrie said the flames were about three-storeys high. Two volunteer fire crews from Dargaville and one each from Te Kopuru and Ruawai fought the blaze. A fire investigator sent to the scene discovered the blaze started in the kitchen. Further investigations were being carried out to determine exactly what sparked the blaze.

A smoke alarm sounded as the fire spread quickly through the house.

Mr and Mrs Gilligan have four children - three boys aged 6, 11 and 13 and an 18-year-old girl. They were all home at the time of the fire and it was the eldest boy who heard an explosion and started yelling "fire", Ms Guthrie said.

"They've lost everything. They walked out with only the clothes on their back," she said.

"The family are coping but they are very overwhelmed and blown away by the number of people who have dropped off stuff. They're in shock and they're exhausted."

Ms Guthrie's home is the drop-off point for donations and said the community had come together to help the family who are usually the one's helping others.

"We have clothes, food and toys, blankets - new knitted blankets from the knitting club, money, vouchers for The Warehouse. Just a whole lot of stuff - people are giving all they can," she said.

Ms Guthrie said Mr Gilligan was the unit commander at the local Air Training Corps and Mrs Gilligan was involved with the local Kea scouts.

"It's the nature of the community to help. Every time there is a crisis the community comes together, it is absolutely incredible."

Donations can be dropped off to Ms Guthrie's home on 56 Awakino Rd, Dargaville.

A Givealittle has also been set up for the family.