Billeena Chapman and partner Ricky Walker comfort their five children, (from left) Korey, 10, Lana, 1, Jonah, 5, Madeleine, 9, and Abigale, 7, after fire destroyed their Tiaro home about 12.30pm yesterday.
Billeena Chapman and partner Ricky Walker comfort their five children, (from left) Korey, 10, Lana, 1, Jonah, 5, Madeleine, 9, and Abigale, 7, after fire destroyed their Tiaro home about 12.30pm yesterday.

Mum saves daughter from fire

HER HAIR and eyebrows are singed and her elbow bandaged but Billeena Chapman of Tiaro cried tears of joy yesterday as she hugged her five children knowing they were safe.

It was mixed emotions as the shock of losing the old timber house and almost all of their possessions sank in.

Ms Chapman, Jonah, 5, and Lana, 1, narrowly escaped the blaze that destroyed the home within minutes. Her three other children – Korey,10, Madeleine, 9, and Abigale, 7 – were at school while partner Ricky Walker was working at a Bauple farm.

The family’s two dogs also escaped unharmed.

Mr Walker said he rushed home as soon as news of the disaster was phoned through. When he arrived, however, only a shell of their uninsured house in Copenhagen Street remained.

Ms Chapman said she had been watching TV when the smell of smokewafted up the steps from the laundry and she went to investigate.

The pregnant mother barely had time to rush back upstairs and collect Lana and Jonah before the fire engulfed the home. The flames were so close, Ms Chapman’s hair and eyebrows were singed and shesuffered minor burns to her elbow.

“The flames just came up the stairs,” she said. “They just kept getting bigger ... I had to get the baby out ... it was all gone in aminute.”

Ms Chapman said the family had lost almost everything in the blaze.

“Christmas hampers had just arrived – they’re gone. All our Christmas presents we’d bought are gone.”

Only the clothes the family was wearing and two push bikes in the front yard survived.

Maryborough fire station officer Greg Walters said the fire was being treated as non-suspicious.

He said initial investigations suggested an electrical fault in the laundry had caused the blaze, however its confirmation was doubtful dueto the amount of destruction.

“The power board was completely destroyed,” he said. “These old timber houses just go up.”

Mr Walters urged all homeowners to ensure that their smoke detectors were in proper working order.

In this case, however, a strong north-easterly breeze prevented smoke reaching the detector before Ms Chapman discovered the fire.

Tiaro Rural Fire Brigade volunteers also attended the blaze.

Anyone wanting to help the family is welcome to contact their neighbour, Nadia, on 4129 2527.



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