Fire victims overwhelmed


The Arrowtown couple left homeless after a house fire last Friday have been overwhelmed by the outpouring of support.

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

James told the Otago Daily Times yesterday his employer “caught wind of it” and raced to the house to check on Katherina and their son before returning to tell him the bad news.

While it was “pretty stink”, James says the couple have 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.”

The couple were allowed to inspect the damage on Sunday.

They found everything in the baby room was a “write-off” but managed to salvage clothes from drawers in their bedroom and a commercial cleaner managed to get out most of the smoke smell.

Within two hours of the fire, a plea was issued on social media by Katherina’s friend, Jo Sacre.

The response has been amazing, James says.

“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.

Bennell says along with toys, clothes, TVs, DVD players, cots and strollers, businesses were quick to offer assistance.

Fresh Choice supermarket was putting together a grocery basket, while the Arrowtown Four Square gave them vouchers. Betty’s Liquor chipped in with a hamper.

Extra Storage Queenstown and Arrowtown’s Jones Contracting have offered storage space.

James, who has lived his whole life in Arrowtown, says he’s grateful to people like 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.”

James says they’ve secured temporary accommodation and applied for more permanent rental houses over the weekend.

Fire Safety investigator Stu Ide says 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.”

Ide says the fire was centred on the clothes drier.

Otago Daily Times