GoFundMe set up for family of eleven left homeless after Smithfield house fire destroys everything
A family of 11 has been left with only the pajamas they were wearing when a fire broke out while they were sleeping and destroyed their home.
Warren Wilson, his wife Amelia and nine children, ages 4 to 21, woke Monday morning to absolute chaos at their property, located in Sydney’s western suburb of Smithfield.
Mr Wilson, who has the family’s only income and works night shifts, said he had just come home when he ‘burned his daughter! firework!’ at about 6:40 a.m.
“I had gone to bed after the night shift and my wife was ironing the children’s clothes to get them ready for school,” he said.
“Then I heard my daughter yell ‘fire! fire!’ and when I went to see her, I saw her electric heater go up in flames.’
The family’s home in Smithfield, a western Sydney suburb, has been completely destroyed by fire
Warren Wilson said the fire started from an electric heater in his daughter’s room and spread throughout the house within minutes.
Mr Wilson said the fire quickly spread across the mattress and within seconds the flames reached the roof, so he ordered everyone to leave the house.
‘I thought I would try to stop it by pulling the heater out of the wall but the front of the bed had already caught fire and then it was up to the roof and seconds later I heard the heater explode. It sounded like a bomb went off,” he said.
Mr Wilson said everyone rushed out as his sons helped carry the youngest girls who were still asleep in bed.
Just as they were yards away from the house, he heard “boom, boom, boom” as the windows shattered and the property caught fire.
Warren Wilson, his wife Amelia and nine children aged 4 to 21 are in emergency care until June 24, but don’t know where they will go after that
Firefighters told family they probably would have died if they had stayed in the house one minute longer
“It must have been minutes from the start of the fire until the whole house was in flames,” he said.
“It was gone in about 60 seconds and the fire chief who arrived at the scene told me that if we stayed one more minute, we’d all be dead.”
Mr. Wilson, unsure whether insurance will cover the cost of the disaster, said the most heartbreaking part was standing helplessly in front of the family home he’d worked so hard for, watching it disappear in minutes.
“People don’t know how hard it is, you become a nobody with nowhere to go,” he said.
“As if I’m standing there with my nine kids and thinking I’m gone, I’m done, everything I’ve worked for just gone.
“I wouldn’t wish that feeling on anyone because it’s really, really sad.
“The fear that you feel and you’re just completely helpless and feeling like your life is being taken away before you even know what happened.”
Miraculously, only Mr. Wilson needed medical treatment and was taken to Westmead Hospital for smoke inhalation.
A close friend set up a GoFundMe for the family, who thanked the local community for their help during the crisis
The family said they were overwhelmed by the support from the local community, especially the neighbors, their parish and the children’s school.
“Everyone has been great. I’ve never seen people come together like this and help someone so much,” said Mr. Wilson.
“I am truly blessed and touched by the outpouring of care and support.”
Mr Wilson and his family will be in emergency shelter until Friday 24 June but have no idea where he and his family will be going after that.
“I just desperately need a place to live,” he said.
“I have such a big family, so it’s hard to find a place where we can live.”
Mr Wilson said that while his entire family is shocked, it is his oldest children who struggle the most but are still trying their best to stay positive.
“My little ones are okay, they are playing and don’t really understand the situation, while my girl, who was in the room where it started, is struggling emotionally,” he said.
“You can see my oldest children have a hard time watching their mother and father lose everything.
“We had this beautiful house that we owned and worked so hard for and now we’re homeless, it’s hell.”
Good friend, Teresa Culjak, has a GoFundMe to help the family.
Mrs. Culjak knows the acolyte’s family in St Gertrude’s Parish where the Wilson children sing and make music in the parish choir.
She says she has never met a “more beautiful and caring” family.
“I was at the parish yesterday and Warren came with two of his boys and people were there offering help and the boys still said they were fine and didn’t need anything, they’re all so selfless,” she said.
“Their whole lives have been stolen and they still say they are all good and take care of other people.”