Support raises family's spirits

The Spring Gully home

The Spring Gully home

UPDATE: Items can be donated at 24 Sherwood Drive, Flora Hill, on Tuesday May 6. The Advertiser incorrectly reported house number 23.

INITIAL REPORT: Family says they are lucky to be alive

A SPRING Gully father says he is amazed at the outpouring of support from the Bendigo community after almost all of his family's possessions were destroyed in a house fire at the weekend. 

Ben Dougherty, his fiancee Belinda Fowler and their two young children fled their home after the fire broke out on Saturday about 4pm. 

Mr Dougherty said St Vincent de Paul, the Red Cross and other charities had offered their services to the family. 

The Bendigo Advertiser was also inundated with calls and emails from the community wanting to help. 

"It's hard to take in what has happened," he said. 

"The only thing we could think of is how we were going to get back on our feet.

"The support already has been amazing.

"It makes you (think harder) about giving donations next time (charities) knock on the door." 

A leaking gas bottle started the fire, which gutted the kitchen and destroyed their fridge, couch, TV and other possessions.

The bottle, which was for a barbecue dinner on Saturday night, caught alight when Mr Dougherty knocked over a burning candle. 

Ben Dougherty and Belinda Fowler watch as firefighters save what they can from the home. Picture: BLAIR THOMSON

Ben Dougherty and Belinda Fowler watch as firefighters save what they can from the home. Picture: BLAIR THOMSON

Mr Dougherty said he and Miss Fowler "proud of what (they) had" from their six-year relationship.

"Everything was gone in 10 minutes," he said. 

"All I remember is a flashing blue light.

"Every (firefighter) there said I was lucky to be alive." 

He said the family stayed in a hotel on Saturday and Sunday and his children, Braxton, 2, and Phraze, 1, thought they were on a holiday. 

Maiden Gully's Ossie Dixon said he had a lounge suite.  

"They said they've lost their lounge and thought if we can help them, we will," he said.  

"That's what it's all about."

Mr Dougherty said the family would move into a new house on Tuesday and donations could be dropped off at 24 Sherwood Drive, Flora Hill. 

He said money donations could be deposited to Bendigo Bank, BSB: 633 000, AC: 4307 8863. 

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