Determined to stay positive are Ricky Walker with Lana, 2, and Billeena Chapman with baby Dellice, six months, and their other children (from left) Jonah, 6, Abigale, 8, Madeleine, 10, and Karey, 11.
Determined to stay positive are Ricky Walker with Lana, 2, and Billeena Chapman with baby Dellice, six months, and their other children (from left) Jonah, 6, Abigale, 8, Madeleine, 10, and Karey, 11. JOCELYN WATTS

Fire victims keep their spirits

HER CHILDREN have changed schools four times since the fire that destroyed their home and all their personal possessions 11 months ago and now just getting through each day has become Billeena Chapman’s focus.

The lives of Billeena, partner Ricky Walker and their six children have been in a state of constant upheaval since the fire, which broke out two hours after insulation was installed in their home on November 17 last year.

The family moved into a dilapidated house in Bauple after the fire.

The water tank wasn’t connected to the house, meaning the family had a limited water supply and there were many other issues with the house.

“It was a mess – there were no door handles, no stove,” Billeena said.

The family has lived in a cabin, in a tent and now in emergency housing in Maryborough, thanks to the intervention of Fraser Coast Housing, whose help Billeena has been very grateful for.

The family of eight was further hampered when one of their cars was repossessed.

The lease for the house they are in now is up in a week or two but Billeena says she can’t think of that now. She’s beyond the point of worrying.

“I’ve gotten to the stage where I’m not worried. The kids have been so distressed and angry and upset,” she said.

“We’re the ones who are supposed to be looking after them but we have lost everything too.”

It is only in the past six to eight weeks that Billeena and Ricky have started to come out of the shock that gripped them after the destruction of their home. It was about six to eight weeks ago that the family was placed in emergency housing and were able to get their bearings for the first time in months.

Another positive has been the intervention of Wide Bay MP Warren Truss.

The insulation that was installed two hours before the fire in the uninsured timber home could well be responsible, Billeena believes.

The Federal Government’s botched home insulation scheme has been behind house fires across Australia and Mr Truss would love to see the family receive compensation.

But the heat of the fire means the cause of the blaze was unclear. “The fire report was inconclusive,” Billeena said.

It has been an uphill battle for the family but Billeena is determined to stay positive.

She has faced some of the lowest times of her life and come out the other side.

“I’ve still got my babies and my life,” she said.



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