Family says they are lucky to be alive

POSSESSIONS DESTROYED: Ben Dougherty and Belinda Fowler. Picture: BLAIR THOMSON

POSSESSIONS DESTROYED: Ben Dougherty and Belinda Fowler. Picture: BLAIR THOMSON

 Four flee home as fire takes hold of property

A COUPLE with two young children are coming to terms with the fact that almost all of their possessions were destroyed in a house fire on Saturday night.

Ben Dougherty, 36, and Belinda Fowler, 23, were forced to flee their rented Carpenter Street home with boys Braxton, 2, and Phraze, 1, when a fire broke out about 4pm.

Mr Dougherty said he was relieved that his children weren't harmed in the fire but he said the experience had been "surreal".

"You never, ever could have imagined how quickly it happened - it was bloody scary," he said.

He said the fire was started by a barbecue gas bottle explosion.

He said he had put the gas bottle in a room where there was a scented candle burning.

He said that somehow the bottle was knocked over, leaking gas, and within seconds there was a loud explosion.

"In about five seconds it went, 'boom!' and the whole room was in flames," he said.

"It was like a blue flash ... before we knew it the whole house was on fire."

Mr Dougherty said firefighters told him that the gas cylinder had been leaking before it was knocked over, and that the family were lucky to be alive.

He said the couple didn't have house insurance and that the fire had completely destroyed almost all of their possessions.

"Unfortunately the room where it was worse is where we had our fridge, our couch, our TV and our steam cleaner," he said.

"The whole kitchen was gutted.

"I have a pair of thongs - that's it."

He said the family stayed in a hotel on Saturday and Sunday nights but that a real estate agent had already found them a new house to move into.

Mr Dougherty said he was disappointed the family now had no possessions, but he was thankful nobody was harmed in the incident.

"At the end of the day I'm just happy we're alright," he said.

"They're just material things - they can be replaced."

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