David Sellars, Gavin Sellars and Emma Stanley standing in what used to be the living room after a devastating fire gutted their North Bundaberg home.
David Sellars, Gavin Sellars and Emma Stanley standing in what used to be the living room after a devastating fire gutted their North Bundaberg home. Murray Wenzel

Left with clothes on their backs

TANYA Cook has lost her North Bundaberg house of nine years and everything inside it.

But apart from one kitten, the occupants all escaped unharmed to watch in disbelief as their home was destroyed.

According to Mrs Cook’s brother David Sellars, the fire was started by birthday boy Lleyton Cook, who decided to light one last candle to celebrate.

“The candle burnt his hand so he dropped it, and it started smoking, so he threw some clothes on it to smother it and they started smoking up too,” Mr Sellars said.

From there the fire erupted, leaping into the man hole and latching on to Christmas decorations stored in the roof.

It completely gutted Lleyton’s room, destroyed the living area and melted the kitchen and surrounding bedroom features.

A solitary poster stuck to one wall and some dishes in the sink were the only things left intact.

“It just exploded like a bomb,” Mr Sellars said.

It took the 10 people, who were living in the four-bedroom house, about 20 minutes to evacuate.

Thirteen people, in total live in the house, but three were away at the time.

“All we had were the clothes on our back; everything else is gone,” Mr Sellars said.

Mrs Cook, who owns the home, has insured the building, but not its contents.

A life-long stamp collection that filled a two-metre high cabinet was reduced to ashes and all the family could do was watch.

As the insurance company sifted through the remains yesterday the family was wondering where they would be sleeping long term, as temporary housing was still being arranged.

As the family stays in a motel for now, Mrs Cook’s cats had to be left at the house and, she said, they would most likely be donated to the RSPCA.

Mr Sellars had been living with his sister for the past 18 months, after finding it difficult to find a rental property.



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