Community makes a difference for family after devastating Wangoom Road house fire

THE community’s spirit of generosity has overwhelmed a young family who lost everything in a Wangoom Road house fire this week.

After running from their home and watching it go up in smoke on Tuesday, Rachael Walker and her three children were uninsured and left with nothing but their family car and the clothes on their backs. 

But throughout the week, their feelings of shock and heartbreak have turned to heart-warming gratitude as neighbours, businesses, schools and strangers have made efforts to donate toys, clothing and furniture, a family member told The Standard. 

Paige Storey, 21, moved to Warrnambool from Melbourne with the family two years ago and said her older sister was amazed by the community’s reaction to their loss.

“Everybody in the community, how much they’re wanting to help is unexplainable; it’s indescribable,” Ms Storey said.

“The difference it’s made is phenomenal. As Rachael and I have said to a few people, we’re from Melbourne and hardly knew our neighbours, but now strangers are giving up everything they think would help.

“It’s not even just neighbours but the whole community — people from Port Fairy, Nullawarre, Timboon.

“The kids’ schools have been wonderful.

“St Joseph’s primary (school) came and dropped stuff off yesterday, vouchers for new uniforms and even parents of other kids in the school.

“Warrnambool College has just rang and said they’ll do anything they can.”

The Walker family moved to their Wangoom Road home less than two months ago and was just settling in when the fire took everything on Tuesday.

Alerted by the bells on their dogs’ collars, Ms Walker and her children, aged 16, seven and six, saved nothing as they fled the burning building.

“My sister heard the dogs running around and noticed the back room was on fire,” Ms Storey said.

“She yelled out to her son to grab the kids, she grabbed the dogs and they all ran out.

“They didn’t want to take their chances with gas and everything.

“All that was recovered that wasn’t water damaged were a couple of pieces of clothing and a couple of photo frames.

“The glass is black and cracked but they may be able to save the photos. They’re getting through this just by having each other.”

Advantage Property Management is offering another vacant home to the family as they recover and has been accepting donations at its Timor Street office since neighbours approached director Tammy McGuigan with toys, preloved clothing and furniture.

“I was really blown away with people’s generosity,” Ms Storey told The Standard.

“This is such a beautiful place to live — you wouldn’t get this in Melbourne.

“The neighbours have been amazing. I got choked up by their generosity.

“I can’t believe the community spirit.”

Children’s toys and small items can be dropped at Advantage Property Management, while those donating larger items should call 5561 6271 to arrange transport.

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