Lifestyle

The day I almost lost my home and life in a fire

A reminder of how close I came to losing everything I owned including my life.The result of a saucepan left unattended on a stove. Some of the items destroyed before the fire miraculously went out. Photo: Robyne Cuerel / Fraser Coast Chronicle
A reminder of how close I came to losing everything I owned including my life.The result of a saucepan left unattended on a stove. Some of the items destroyed before the fire miraculously went out. Photo: Robyne Cuerel / Fraser Coast Chronicle Robyne Cuerel

AS a photo-journalist for the past two decades, I have lost count of the number of house fires I have photographed.

There were times while capturing dramatic images of someone's burning house I wondered "what if that was me".

My fears came to pass two days before Christmas.

What confronted me was a terrifying ordeal that gripped me body and soul.

It was my day off and having worked overtime the day before, I had to make the most of downtime alone by resting.

I had been collecting the residues of expensive fragrant candle wax in a small saucepan and would occasionally warm the saucepan up, turn the stove off and let the fragrance fill the house.

This day I thought I would do the same thing.

I turned the stove on - it was only meant to be for a couple of minutes, but I forgot and went to bed.

A high pitched screeching noise awoke me and in a daze, I looked at the fan beside the bed wondering why it was making such a weird noise.

A reminder of how close I came to losing everything I owned including my life. Photo: Robyne Cuerel / Fraser Coast Chronicle
A reminder of how close I came to losing everything I owned including my life. Photo: Robyne Cuerel / Fraser Coast Chronicle Robyne Cuerel

Then staggering into the living room, what confronted me was unbelievable.

The saucepan was now a glowing towering inferno.

Photojournalist - Robyne Cuerel
Photojournalist - Robyne Cuerel Contributed

I froze with shock and panicked - making a rational decision was almost impossible.

In autopilot, I turned off the electric stove but the flames only appeared to leap higher.

I grabbed a couple of cloths, took hold of the flaming saucepan and dropped it in the sink where the whole lot exploded.

Fire bubbled and leapt up the walls, consuming the curtains.

I envisaged the charred remains of the cottage I called home.

I was mesmerised and mortified by a fiercely hot and angry fire, but then something strange happened - it simply dissipated.

There were a few burning embers of melted metal I quenched with a tea towel.

The smoke-stained ceilings and walls are a daily reminder of how close I came to losing everything, including my life.

If it wasn't for a smoke alarm, who knows what would have happened.

It wasn't until I spoke to acting Maryborough Fire Station officer, Adrian Massingham I realised how lucky I was.

"We have smoke alarms because once you go to sleep your nose goes to sleep and you don't have that sense anymore," he said.

"That gives you 20 seconds to realise there is a fire and either enough time to get out of the house or enough time to act and do something."

This horrible experience has caused me to rethink my fire protection, including buying a fire blanket, as well as prompt me to share my story in the hope that others will be motivated to do the same.

HOME FIRE SAFETY TIPS

Never leave cooking, heaters, open fires or candles unattended

Don't overload power boards

Keep electrical appliances in good working order

Ensure cigarette ash and butts are extinguished. Never smoke in bed

Do not dry clothing in front of heaters

Clean lint filters in clothes dryers after every use and always let dryers complete the cool-down cycle

Store all matches and lighters out of reach of children

Keep a fire extinguisher and fire blanket and know how to use them

Have a home fire evacuation plan and practise it regularly

Never deadlock yourself inside the house.



Foodies' scavenger hunt: are you up for it?

IF YOU want to give your tastebuds the flavour sensations of a lifetime, here is the ultimate foodie’s scavenger hunt through Brisbane.

5 minutes with Israel Folau on footy, life and love

Israel Folau and Silver Fern netballer Maria Tutaia announced their engagement last last year.

WE CAUGHT up with football star and Brisbane ex-pat Israel Folau.

10 reasons to head to South Bank this summer

Head to the only inner-city beach in Australia!

South Bank has a ridiculous amount of fun things to do.

Five mammoth events you need in your life

No Caption

BRISBANE isn’t known for doing things by halves…

How to make your child's every dream come true...

Take a dip at South Bank in the inner-city beach.

‘I DON’T want to do fun things, Mum and Dad’… said no child ever!

How to do Eat Street the right way

Know where to start and where to end to avoid a huge food coma before you get to experience all the goodies!

EVERY Friday and Saturday night, Hamilton comes alive.

You can do WHAT in Brisbane?!

Talk about arriving in style! Take your pub crawl to the next level with a helicopter!

BET you didn't know you could do these things in Brisbane...

WIN a fishing trip, $5000 BCF voucher and get free stuff

Want to catch one of these big fellas!? Get your name into our competition to win the ultimate fishing holiday!

WERE running a stack of reely incredible giveaways!

Recycled decor to SIP on

Town and Country Community Options shed facilitator Peter Kalbfell said he could not of wished for a better job.

Return customers rave about The Shed

Three news subscriptions and a free paper for $3 - saywhat?!

No Caption

FORGET everything you thought you knew about a great deal.

Local Partners

Jennifer Aniston wants to return to TV

Jennifer Aniston is desperate to make a return to TV

Madonna hopes for election unity

Madonna hopes Donald Trump's election will "bring people together"

JK Rowling rules out Cursed Child trilogy

JK Rowling has ruled out a 'Cursed Child' movie trilogy

Buckley's chance in psychological thriller

James McAvoy and Betty Buckley in a scene from the movie Split.

Broadway veteran back on big screen with James McAvoy

Daniel MacPherson: acting’s a bit like channel surfing

Australian actor Daniel MacPherson in a scene from the American TV series APB.

THE Aussie export talks about making his mark in the US.

Shopping isn't fun if you can see dead people

Lisa Marie Woodham will be giving readings in Gladstone until Saturday January 21.

Shopping isn't fun if you can see dead people

First home buyers the "lifeblood” of Fraser Coast market

CoreLogic property statistics reveal the region's median house price of $300,000 did not change in the September quarter.

Median house price of $300,000 remains steady in September quarter

By the water's edge

Secure your seachange

HOT PROPERTY: Money to spend on land, buildings

File picture.

Sale, leasing of industrial real estate picks up in Mackay

Collapsed Coast company could owe up to $5 million

Staff, ATO, landlords among those out of pocket.

Ipswich block of dirt sells for $582 a square metre

JUST SOLD: A property on the Brookwater golf course sold for a record-breaking $612,000.

Property smashed 2007 record by close to $100,000

Ready to SELL your property?

Post Your Ad Here!