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HomeAustraliaScarborough WA family living in a caravan after devastating house fire

Scarborough WA family living in a caravan after devastating house fire


A family of four has been forced to live in a caravan after losing all of their possessions when their home went up in flames.

Christopher Feeney, 42, was at home in Scarborough, north-west Perth, with his fiancée Johana, one of their six-year-old twin boys and two dogs on May 22 when a neighbor noticed their garage was on fire.

The pair acted quickly and evacuated safely before the fire engulfed the rest of the house.

Clothing, sentimental items, toys, as well as Christopher’s delivery van worth approximately $100,000 were lost, forcing him to temporarily cease his work as a flooring contractor.

The family was sitting in their living room when they were alerted to the blaze after a neighbor noticed a plume of black smoke rising from the back of their house.

“They (the neighbour) said they saw smoke coming from the garage, then my partner tried to look but the fire was so strong,” Johana told Daily Mail Australia.

“He said we should leave the house now, it’s going to explode.”

Within three minutes, Johana had run out of the house with one of her sons (the other was in school), followed shortly by Christopher.

“I couldn’t think straight, I was just in shock,” said Johana.

“I had no shoes on, I ran away (from the fire) with my son barefoot.”

Christopher Feeney (right), fiancé Johana (centre) and their twin sons have been forced to live in a friend’s caravan after losing their home and belongings in a house fire on May 22

Johana said the family could only watch as firefighters tried to put out the blaze.

“I was hoping it would be small, but when I saw the frames start to burn and come off, I knew it would be impossible to stop,” she said.

“My boy was crying, he was so upset. He said, “My house is on fire mommy, my house is on fire.”

The mother said their main concern was Christopher’s van, with tools he collected over 12 years to build his business.

“He’s building his business and that’s all there was in the garage, the van,” Johana said.

None of the estimated $100,000 worth of tools was salvageable from the blaze.

The couple’s two sons have taken the disaster particularly hard, telling other children at school that they “have no toys and miss their home.”

The family was able to find a small apartment to live in for a few days after the fire, but have since moved into a small caravan in nearby Karrinyup.

“It’s not the best thing to raise two boys… we try to keep the best attitude, to think positively,” said Johana.

1685547551 994 Scarborough WA family living in a caravan after devastating house

The family, including their two dogs, evacuated safely, but the fast-moving fire and water used by firefighters rendered the house uninhabitable

The entire house was damaged by the fast spreading fire and also by the fire extinguishing water used by the fire brigade.

Footage of the home after the fire shows soot covering the home’s frame and foundation, while loose bricks litter the floor.

Large pieces of the house’s framework had fallen onto Christopher’s van, which was damaged beyond repair.

Although the fire was deemed an accident, the family’s belongings were not covered by insurance, leaving them pocket-deep.

Christopher believed that the security deposit paid at the start of their Scarborough rental covered the cost of the contents insurance.

“I just thought that if you rented somewhere and paid a security deposit, there would have been an insurance plan, but that’s clearly not the case,” he said.

Standard home contents insurance usually covers all damage from fire – including wildfires – theft and storm damage.

Meanwhile, renters’ insurance offers more protection, potentially covering events such as explosions, water damage, vandalism, and natural disasters.

Johana, who is from Colombia, and Christopher, who is from Ireland, did not expect the amount of generosity the local community would offer them in times of need.

“They help us with food, clothes for all of us, vouchers, emotional support,” said Johana.

“We weren’t expecting anything, it was a nice surprise how generous Australians are.”

All of their belongings, including Christopher Feeney's $100,000 van (pictured), were lost in the fire and were not covered by home contents insurance

All of their belongings, including Christopher Feeney’s $100,000 van (pictured), were lost in the fire and were not covered by home contents insurance

Christopher and Johan’s family and friends are one GoFundMe page who raised more than $23,000 of its original goal of $16,000 in just five days.

“With Johana’s family in Colombia and Christopher’s family in Ireland, we feel heartbroken and helpless being so far away from them in their time of need,” the page reads.

“We hope this fundraiser will help get them back on their feet and ease some of their stress and anxiety during these uncertain times.

“Any donation, no matter how big or small, is greatly appreciated.”

After receiving $12,000 within the page’s first day online, the family sent a message of gratitude to their donors.

“From our family to you, we would like to express our sincere gratitude,” the message reads.

“Thank you very much for your extraordinarily generous donations to us.

“The money we have received will help us immensely in this time of need. May you be just as blessed in your lives!’

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