Mosgiel family appeal for relocation help after fire

Paniora Calvert’s fire-damaged home. Photo: Supplied
Paniora Calvert’s fire-damaged home. Photo: Supplied
A Mosgiel family who had to leave their house after a faulty toaster set their kitchen alight are seeking financial assistance when they move into their new home.

Firefighters from three different areas —  Mosgiel, Lookout Point and Roslyn— were called to the blaze on Green St, which took place on January 8.

The fire began in the kitchen, and burned through the roof space and into the wash-house. Paniora Calvert, Danny Hartigan and their three young children are staying in a motel and waiting to hear from Housing New Zealand about their new house.

Despite the dire straits they had found themselves in, there was a silver lining — Mr Hartigan said he and Ms Calvert, who had been living separately, had decided to reunite after the fire.

The pair, who were relying on the foodbank for meals, understood the fire was caused by the broken toaster. 

Ms Calvert had gone back to work part-time as a caregiver to help support the family, while Mr Hartigan, a former taxi driver, was looking after the children, who were 3, 4 and 6 years old.

Ms Calvert said she had essentially lost all her possessions after the fire tore through her home of three and a-half years.

"It’s been quite emotional," she said.

"It’s everything that I took ages to get."

Whenever the children drove in the car they would tell her they could smell smoke.

"It’s been quite traumatic," Ms Calvert said.

Mr Hartigan said they had  salvaged a few items from the house, such as clothes, which had been in the room furthest from the fire — but despite multiple washes, they still smelled strongly of smoke. 

Most of the items in the house were severely smoke-damaged.

Mr Hartigan said a Givealittle page had been set up, and he and Ms Calvert were appealing for help for expenses such as hiring a van and driving it to Central Otago, where he would be collecting some furniture to help set up their new house.

The couple would also have to hire a skip to get rid of things they could no longer use.

Support from people in the community had been  "overwhelming",  for instance when it came to providing clothes. 

Housing NZ was paying for the cost of the motel. So far the pair had raised nearly $300. They were aiming for about $1000. The Givealittle page can be found under Mr Hartigan’s name and is called "There was a house fire and we have to relocate".

elena.mcphee@odt.co.nz 

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