ORIGINAL STORY: Four flee home as fire takes hold
BEN Dougherty and Belinda Fowler were in search of greener pastures when they moved to Bendigo from Horsham four years ago.
“We don't have family (in Bendigo), we just wanted to come here and do it on our own - and we took a long time to get what we had, but we had it and it was all ours,” Mr Dougherty said.
Even before the fire destroyed their Spring Gully home, life hadn't been easy.
“I was working, I’m a carpenter, but about eight months ago I got diagnosed with epilepsy and I can’t go back to work until I don’t have a seizure for six months,” he said.
Mr Dougherty’s illness drastically affected the couple’s financial situation.
“We went from $1600 a week to the pension, the disability pension, which is $600 a fortnight,” he said.
I have to try to stay strong for the boys.
Their ability to recover from the loss of almost all their possessions in the fire at the weekend has been weakened because Mr Dougherty still has two months before he can return to work.
“It’s been four months, so as long as I keep my stress levels down I’ll be alright,” he said.
His partner Belinda, and mother of their two young boys Braxton, 2, and Phraze, 1, said she felt overwhelmed and emotional.
“I have to try to stay strong for the boys,” she said.
Despite the trauma of losing his home, Mr Dougherty is able to focus on the positives in life.
"Belle wasn’t meant to be able to have kids so when she got pregnant with Braxton everyone was pretty amazed and Phraze was just another one and neither of them were planned. The doctors, everyone, told her she couldn’t have kids."
Mr Dougherty’s grandparents have travelled from Beulah to support their grandson and his family.
“I just want to do something, I’m just here not doing anything, but we’ll get jobs sooner or later when they start bringing in the stuff with the smoke. We’ll have to clean it all, " his grandmother Betty Shannon said.