A devastated newly-engaged couple are mourning the loss of their two beloved dogs after their home suddenly erupted into flames on Christmas Day.
Jordan Street, 25, and Ruby Debrincat, 23, spent two days with family members in Melbourne before heading home to Newborough on December 25 to eat lunch with Jordan’s mum, Rachael Mayes.
The pair, who got engaged just three months ago, were buzzing with excitement about spending their first Christmas as a family with their dogs, 10-month-old Gunnar and 10-week-old Winnie.
Jordan and Ruby dropped off the dogs and changed clothes at their rental home before heading down the road to Ms Mayes’ home.
They left the back door open so the dogs could come and go.
Mum smells billowing smoke
After enjoying Christmas family lunch, the couple and Jordan’s sister took a plate over to their grandmother’s home because she wasn’t feeling well.
Just moments later, Ms Mayes told Yahoo News Australia she began to smell smoke and went outside to investigate.
She spotted plumes of smoke billowing from about 1km away and immediately feared it was her son’s home based on the location.
Ms Mayes then checked her phone’s Victoria emergency app and saw the fire was located at their address.
As her husband rushed over to the home to save Gunnar and Winnie, Ms Mayes called the couple but they didn’t answer.
They didn’t realise what was happening until they were headed home and received her frantic messages.
Dogs found huddling in bedroom closet
Ms Mayes’ husband was unable to save the dogs and a firefighter later found them huddled in the bedroom closet.
Gunnar was protecting Winnie, who Jordan and Ruby had picked up just two weeks before, but they ultimately died from smoke inhalation.
The firefighter smashed open a window and handed the dogs to Jordan, who had raced home and was now sobbing, Ms Mayes said.
“It was traumatic - having to watch your son balling his eyes out,” she said, adding that the couple also lost all of their possessions.
“They treated them like they were their children and were just starting to build their lives together.
“Their excitement for having their first family Christmas together was rubbing off on us,” Ms Mayes said, fearful that the holiday will now always remind them of their devastation.
Ms Mayes said the couple had initially planned on stopping at home for longer to take a nap, but she urged them to come to lunch because of all the preparation.
She said she now realises that if she hadn’t, they may have been asleep inside at the time of the blaze.
The fire is under investigation but it is believed to have started by an electrical fault.
The local community and those from afar have rallied around the couple, raising more than $17,000 through a GoFundMe.
People have also dropped off food and clothes and there has been many offers of furniture but they don’t have anywhere to store it just yet.
The couple are now staying with Ms Mayes as they get back on their feet.
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