A WOODFORD family has lost virtually everything after fire destroyed their $450,000 dream home on Saturday night.
Mark Hand, his partner Deborah Maloney and son Jordan, 14, now face returning to live in a large shed after being left with only the clothes they were wearing.
Ms Maloney, who was briefly outside the brick veneer house about 6.30pm putting chickens back into a hen house, suffered minor burns after she saw flames and tried to rush back inside to save a dog. She received slight burns to her face and hair when she opened a door and flames flared at her.
She spent the night in Warrnambool Base Hospital and was released on Sunday.
Jordan had been asleep in the house after playing football with the Dennington under 15s and was wakened by the sound of explosions and smoke alarms.
He rushed down a corridor and through the laundry to escape.
The family’s dog died in the fire, as did a number of chickens kept in the garage.
Mr Hand said the family had lived in the shed for three years while they built their home beside Caramut Road.
They had enjoyed the fruits of their hard work for only three years before Saturday’s disaster.
Mr Hand, a boilermaker, had worked a 13-hour shift in Murray Bridge in South Australia on Saturday before rushing back on to Woodford that night after being told of the blaze.
Its cause remains unknown, although Mr Hand believes rodents might be to blame, saying mice had recently come into the house.
“We were catching about three a day,” he said. The fire burnt fiercely, gutting most rooms and buckling the iron roof.
Mr Hand said the family had been “saving forever” to build the house on 26 hectares.
“All the hard work we have done is gone,” he said.
All he had was the bag of work clothes he had while working in Murray Bridge for the past three weeks, while his partner and son were in borrowed clothes.
Yesterday, he looked forlornly through blown-out windows into the charred living area at the burnt frame of an armchair that was to have been a present for his birthday this month.
“I never got to see it,” he said.
The only items he had been able to salvage so far were some photos.
Mr Hand said neighbours and family had been a great support.
Warrnambool fire brigade operations officer Paul Marshall said the house was well alight when the first fire trucks rushed to the scene soon after 6.30pm.
Mr Marshall said it took about an hour for firefighters to bring the fire under control.