Family's fresh start

SETTLING IN: Belinda Fowler and Ben Dougherty and their children Braxton, 2 and Phraze, 1, play with some donated toys.

SETTLING IN: Belinda Fowler and Ben Dougherty and their children Braxton, 2 and Phraze, 1, play with some donated toys.

LIFE is slowing returning to normal for a young central Victorian family who lost almost everything they owned in a house fire. 

Ben Dougherty, his fiancee Belinda Fowler and their two young children were forced to flee their Spring Gully home after a fire broke out less than three weeks ago.  

While the family escaped, the blaze destroyed nearly all of their belongings - leaving them with little more than the clothes on their backs. 

Bendigo organisations and the community rallied behind the family in response to their plight - donating furniture, toys for the children and clothing to their new house in Flora Hill. 

The Bendigo Advertiser fielded several calls and emails from people eager to help the family. 

Mr Dougherty said some of the destroyed possessions could never be replaced but the family was overwhelmed with the community's support.

"Some of the things we lost can never be replaced - that is the sad part of it," he said.

"It is wonderful what everyone has donated. 

"We would have been knackered without the support.

"It's been amazing.

"They have filled our house pretty much.

"We have a pile of stuff to donate back to St Vincent's."

A leaking gas bottle and candle caused the blaze, with firefighters on scene saying Mr Dougherty was lucky to be alive. 

Mr Dougherty said the family had settled into the new house - including his sons - who, after the fire, believed they were on a holiday. 

"We stayed in hotel after the fire, so the boys thought we were on holiday," he said. 

"I think they are that little bit too young to understand - which I think is a good thing.

"They are back at childcare now, so everything is starting to return to normal for them." 

To add extra pressure to the family, Mr Dougherty was diagnosed with epilepsy about eight months ago and has been unable to work.

He said things were looking up and he had a job lined up for when he was allowed to return to work in coming weeks.

"Everything is slowing going back to normal," he said. 

"It's good.

"We are all together - that's the main thing."   

Smartphone
Tablet - Narrow
Tablet - Wide
Desktop