A Garvoc farmer believes his decision to install smoke detectors connected to power saved his daughter's life.
Jacque Dickson, 19, is studying at Charles Sturt University in Wagga Wagga.
However, when she learnt two of her exams would be conducted online, she decided to return home to the family's Garvoc home to complete them.
On Monday about 9.15am she was completing the exam in her bedroom while wearing earphones when a split system airconditioner in the kitchen caught fire. Her father Bryan Dickson said his daughter heard noises but at first dismissed them. "She was very, very lucky," Mr Dickson said.
"At first she thought she was hearing things but she didn't realise something was wrong until the smoke detector in her bedroom went off."
Miss Dickson was able to flee the house, which was gutted by the fire, with the family's two dogs.
One, Mr Dickson said, is aptly named Murphy.
"He's named after Murphy's law because anything that can go wrong, does go wrong around here and that's what happened on Monday," Mr Dickson said.
He was working a couple of kilometres away from his house when he was alerted to the fire. "When I got there my daughter was standing on the road with the two dogs."
Mr Dickson said his daughter was distraught there was nothing she could do. "I told her 'you've contacted the fire brigade, you've got the dogs, you've done everything you can'."
Mr Dickson and his wife Joanne were affected by the St Patrick's Day fire. "We had over 1000 acres burnt and about 60 kilometres of fencing," he said. But Mr Dickson said the family's belongings can be replaced. "On St Patrick's Day we saved the cows and on Monday we saved Jacque so that's all that matters," he said.
Mr Dickson said the house and contents were insured. He said the home would be rebuilt.
Miss Dickson was the only one home at the time. The couple's oldest daughter Rachel, 20, lives in Terang, while their twin daughters Anna and Leah, 16, were at school at Warrnambool's Emmanuel College.
Mr Dickson said the family had been overwhelmed with the support offered by the community, with the Terang Football Netball Club rallying behind the family.
The club is accepting donated goods on behalf of the family. "We're just lucky no one died," Mr Dickson said.
He said he was relieved he made the decision 12 months ago to install smoke detectors connected to power throughout the house.
Donations can be made at the club during training on Tuesday and Thursday nights.
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