Family vows to rebuild after inferno guts home

 

A WOMAN and her daughter fled a blazing late-night inferno at a rural Far North property while her helpless husband was stranded more than 200km away at a mine site.

Smoke detectors installed just a week ago have been credited with saving the lives of Ravenshoe's Christine and Taylor Vallance who had to run for their lives as the rural home burned to the ground.

The family has lost everything, although a tired and devastated Mark Vallance has vowed to rebuild at the quiet and idyllic 2ha property where they have lived for 14 years.

Ravenshoe fire station's acting captain Edwin Lee blackens out hot spots inside the burnt out Vallance family home at Ravenshoe. David Anthony photo
Ravenshoe fire station's acting captain Edwin Lee blackens out hot spots inside the burnt out Vallance family home at Ravenshoe. David Anthony photo

"All the photos of our kids growing up are gone, their school athletics trophies and original birth certificates - all gone," he said

"The best thing is that everyone is all right."

Christine and Taylor, 54 and 22, were asleep when the fire broke out about 11pm on Wednesday.

They were woken by the alarms, grabbed the pet dog and ran.

It took firefighters about three hours to extinguish the blaze which gutted the timber home, although they managed to save an attached granny flat.

The Vallance lost all their possessions when their South Arm Close home was destroyed by fire on Wednesday night. But Mark Vallance vows to rebuild. David Anthony photo
The Vallance lost all their possessions when their South Arm Close home was destroyed by fire on Wednesday night. But Mark Vallance vows to rebuild. David Anthony photo

Mr Vallance said he had been away working at the mines in Chillagoe when he heard the news, but had just finished a shift so was not allowed to drive.

"I knew myself it was best not to drive for my own safety," he said. "I would have driven as fast as I could.

"Instead, I waited several hours until I felt calm enough and then left work at 4pm.

"I'm happy we are insured, but we lost everything."

The family escaped because of recently installed smoke detectors.
The family escaped because of recently installed smoke detectors.

The Vallances have four grown-up children and a foster child, the two younger ones having grown up in the house.

As the home was made of timber and had a combustion stove, Mr Vallance said he was always safety-conscious and had recently installed the new detectors.

Mr Vallance said the home would be rebuilt.

"We aren't leaving Ravenshoe, we love it here," he said.

"I can't think of a better place to live."

The cause of the blaze remains under investigation.

The burnt-out shell of the Vallance family home at South Arm Rd, Ravenshoe. David Anthony photo
The burnt-out shell of the Vallance family home at South Arm Rd, Ravenshoe. David Anthony photo

Queensland Fire and Emergency Services Ravenshoe acting Captain Edwin Lee said the alarms had been vital for the family's safety.

"The occupants were sleeping in their beds (when it started).

"In a fire situation, you've probably only got five minutes before a room is fully engulfed, so it's very lucky they woke up."

Atherton police's Senior Sergeant Kyell Palmer said the fire could potentially have been life threatening.

"It is imperative that smoke detectors are installed because, if it wasn't for that in this case, this incident could have been far more tragic," he said.

"They escaped the blaze after being woken by the alarms.

"They were able to exit hastily and save their dog."