A Sydney father has escaped with his wife and nine children after waking up to a fire inside their western Sydney house.
Warren Wilson, a local factory worker, had just returned home from a night shift and got into bed at around 6am on Monday when he heard one of his daughter’s shouting “fire”.
Rushing to her room, he discovered that a heater had caught alight.
As he pulled the plug out of the wall, the heater exploded, causing the mattress to catch fire.
By the time Mr Wilson returned with a wet blanket and towel to put out the flames, the room was ablaze, causing the family to flee their Smithfield home.
Outside they called triple-zero, but firefighters were unable to save the property on The Horsely Drive.
“The house is destroyed, there is nothing left,” Father Peter Strohmayer from St Gertrude’s Parish, the family’s church, told Yahoo News Australia.
“Fortunately they all escaped uninjured physically, but psychologically the kids, aged from four to 21, are very upset.”
While the Wilson family attempts to come to terms with the devastating loss, they are desperately searching for somewhere to stay.
So far, they’ve been given two nights emergency accommodation at a hotel in Strathfield, but Father Peter says they will need a lot more support to get back on their feet.
While clothes and toiletries are being donated to the church, local RSL clubs in Sydney’s west are looking into how they can help.
A fellow parishioner at St Gertrude’s Parish has also set up a Go Fund Me Page to help the Wilsons.
“We’re raising funds to support the Wilson family in their time of need to pay for accommodation to fit their family of 11,” organiser Teresa Culjak wrote online.
“All funds raised will be given to Warren Wilson and his family to rebuild their lives.”
While Father Peter says the children remain in good spirits, he adds Mr Wilson has gone into survival mode, “as you do as a dad".
“They kind of understand the gravity of the situation, but dad is a pretty calm bloke, so I don't think the family is over panicking because dad is keeping them calm as well,” he said.
“As you can imagine, they are still in shock and trying to work out what happens next, but the kids seem ok, [although] still traumatised.”
Deadly heater warning
Fire and Rescue NSW says it’s a devastating reminder to turn heaters off overnight.
“Once you have heated the room up and you go to bed, switch the heater off,” Superintendent Adam Dewberry told Yahoo News Australia.
“You cannot smell smoke when you are asleep. It won’t wake you. It will just kill you.”
“The big thing is to make sure you have a working smoke alarm in rooms, and always have one in your bedroom if you sleep with the door shut,” he added.
Blue Mountains blaze
The fire in Smithfield came just 24 hours before a blaze in the Blue Mountains claimed the life of a man.
Eight fire trucks were sent to the two-storey house on Whitton Street in Katoomba at around 5am on Tuesday.
Firefighters fought the inferno on three fronts as the roof collapsed before they made their way in and found the man’s body on the second level.
Investigations are continuing into what caused the fire.
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