Source: ABC News
A young family who believed their insurance had lapsed after an early morning fire badly damaged their home in Melbourne’s north, three days before Christmas, have discovered that they are still covered.
The family had a lucky escape after a neighbour alerted them to fire in their Pascoe Vale home.
Firefighters were called to the home in Eastgate Street just before 5:00am on Tuesday to find the roof well alight.
Steve Dorman from the Metropolitan Fire Brigade said three adults and two young children were lucky to escape the house after their smoke alarm failed to go off until it was too late.
This was a recipe for disaster at this time of the morning. Usually people are deep in sleep and they were very lucky for a passer-by to alert them.
Steve Dorman, MFB
“This was a recipe for disaster at this time of the morning,” he said.
“Usually people are deep in sleep and they were very lucky for a passer-by to alert them.
“They did have working smoke alarms but unfortunately they were never activated until the people were leaving the home, so this family is very lucky to be able to escape with their lives.”
The roof of the house partially collapsed in the fire, badly damaging the kitchen and a couple of the bedrooms.
Resident Thang Vu said he thought their insurance had lapsed in the aftermath of the fire, but was “much relieved” to find that he paid the premiums in October.
His wife Houng Vu said Christmas was looking up with the news.
“I just feel so thrilled, so happy, because early this morning, when my husband said ‘I haven’t paid for the insurance’ I totally collapsed, because, what to do? Where the money comes from? We have to worry about the kids, schooling next year, a lot of stuff,” she said.
“But now it just feels like the burden has been [taken] off, away from my shoulder.”
The family had received offers for help with accommodation from the Red Cross and neighbours, but said the insurance company would now organise accommodation and house repairs.
Ms Vu said they bought the house just last year.
Christmas presents ‘safe, but soaked’
The couple’s son Alex Vu, 12, said he “bolted out of the house” after hearing the door bell and someone yelling fire.
GIF: Houng Vu hugs her husband
“The guy next door, he is a lifesaver, because he went to work at 5:00am, and he saw the fire so he went to the house and woke us all up and then we all got out safely,” he said.
“[I’m] very thankful — I was thanking him 10 times.”
Alex said he was able to get into the house after the fire was put out and rescue his Christmas presents.
“It was all safe, but it was soaked, so I dried them,” he said.
Earlier, Ms Vu said they had no idea, when the neighbour knocked on the door, that the flames were spreading.
“Everybody was inside the house and we were all asleep, and the neighbour just knocked on the door and said ‘get out quickly, there’s a fire’, and we still didn’t know what was happening,” she said.
“The most important thing is that we are all safe.”