Family have gathered to support the couple who lost most of
what they owned in an East Coast house fire at the weekend,
and moves are under way to get them into a new home.
Russell Wilson and his partner's rental cottage on a property
alongside State Highway 2, just south of Te Karaka, burned to
the ground on Saturday night.
Firemen believe the cause was an electrical fault near the
stove, possibly caused by rodents.
Mr Wilson was home when the fire started but could do nothing
to stop it and had to get out of the cottage in a hurry
because of the fire's rapid spread.
"Russell was extremely lucky," said his father Ross Wilson.
"It was an old place and it burned very quickly."
His son's partner had taken their grandchildren, aged 2 and
5, with her to get groceries in Te Karaka.
"It was fortunate that she had the children with her when
that fire started," Mr Wilson said.
"They were insured, so it looks as if everything is going to
work out OK.
"The family have been looking around for a new home for them
and hopefully something will turn up soon," he said.
Meanwhile, the couple has been temporarily accommodated at a
"I was in the lounge watching TV when the fire started,"
Russell Wilson said.
"I heard a loud bang from the kitchen, then saw black smoke
coming from there.
"I ran into the kitchen and the whole roof was just alive
with flame," he said.
"Our garden hose was in the washhouse on the other side of
the flames and I could not get to it.
"So I closed some doors to try to contain the fire, and ran
back into the lounge to get my cellphone to call 111."
Shortly after that he had to leave the house because of the
speed with which the fire spread.
"It was only 10 to 15 minutes later that our home was pretty
much totally destroyed."
His partner was in Te Karaka when she heard the fire siren go
"My granddaughter was in tears in the ute as they drove up
the driveway after coming back with the groceries.
"The windows were blowing out at that stage."
It is the second time the impact of a house fire has struck
Russell Wilson's son lost everything to a house fire in
Gisborne two years ago.
His son went back into the lounge of the blazing house to
rescue his sleeping daughter in that fire.
"The fire on Saturday at our place brought back bad memories
for my granddaughter."
Mr Wilson said the assessment process was being worked
through with the insurance company.
"But we are hoping our insurers will come to the party.
"The only thing we have left are the clothes we had on our
backs at the time of the fire," he said.
Mr Wilson said they hoped to get another farm cottage to
"We would really appreciate hearing from anyone who might
have one vacant."
They can be contacted through his parents in Ormond Valley
- By Murray Robertson of The Gisborne Herald