UPDATE: More than $20,000 has been raised for Tom Dunning as news of his unfortunate loss spread across social media.

Mr Dunning was brought to tears when he was told how much had already been raised by the community.

He spent the day with friends and family sifting through the rubble of his home to find his late wife's ashes and any other sentimental items that might still be intact.

They managed to find one of Lorraine's small urns, which he had intended to put in the garden she loved so much.  

The family will continue to post updates on the 'Help for Tom Dunning' Facebook donation page with what help is needed.

Tom Dunning with his late wife Lorraine.
Tom Dunning with his late wife Lorraine. Contributed

EARLIER: IN a cruel twist of fate, a much-loved and well-known man from the Somerset region has lost his family home of more than 60 years after it was engulfed in flames just weeks after losing his wife.

Tom Dunning, 72, lost his wife Lorraine eight weeks ago. On the day he retrieved her ashes, he found out he was now living with advanced prostate cancer.

 

Tom Dunning lost his Dundas home to fire on Tuesday afternoon.
Tom Dunning lost his Dundas home to fire on Tuesday afternoon.

On Tuesday afternoon while he was out running errands, he received a phone call from his neighbour Renae Andrew to say his Dundas home was on fire.

"Renae was on the phone screaming as she was running ... she said 'your house is on fire'," Mr Dunning said.

"I could not believe when she said that house was on fire. It just knocked me for six.

"I was ten years of age when Mum and Dad bought that place."

When he returned home, he was met with smouldering rubble and a team of firefighters.

Flames engulfed the home of 74-year-old Tom Dunning on Tuesday afternoon.
Flames engulfed the home of 74-year-old Tom Dunning on Tuesday afternoon. Contributed

 

Nothing was able to be salvaged. He lost his clothes, his wallet, family photos, his wife's antiques and the ashes of his late wife, Lorraine.

"Lorraine used to do the patch work quilting. There we big cupboards in there, they were packed full of them beautiful quilts with the patch work. She had done all that," he said. 

"I don't know what she'd think if she was still alive."

His neighbour Renae had raced down to the home and tried to get inside to retrieve Lorraine's ashes, but she was met with flames at the door. 

Mr Dunning has spent most of today with friends and family combing through the debris in an attempt to find them. 

Tom Dunning with his late wife Lorraine.
Tom Dunning with his late wife Lorraine. Contributed

Lorraine had dementia and died after suffering a severe bladder infection. 

"This year has been so rugged, from the 6th of January on, she became a very sick person and she passed away I think it was the 18th of March," he said. 

"We had a good life, we had a really good life, you know? She was a person that was always there to help me and I always tried to help her. We were always there to support each other.

"I just miss her so terribly."

Fortunately, his pet cat Bobby managed to escape the blaze and was found at the nearby creek once the commotion was over. 

 

Tom Dunning lost his Dundas home to fire on Tuesday afternoon.
Tom Dunning lost his Dundas home to fire on Tuesday afternoon.

Mr Dunning is affectionately known in the community as Pop. He has delivered hay across the region and further afield for years.

The 72-year-old is not sure what's next in his steps to rebuild and recover. He said he plans to pull out an old caravan and continue living on his land, but he doesn't have much left.

The land he lives on will need to be cleared and new power lines installed.

Fire investigators were unable to determine the cause of the blaze. 

Flames engulfed the home of 72-year-old Tom Dunning on Tuesday afternoon.
Flames engulfed the home of 72-year-old Tom Dunning on Tuesday afternoon.

Family and friends have established a Facebook fundraiser called 'Help for Tom Dunning.'

Friends and family have described Mr Dunning as one of the most kind-hearted and generous people they know. 

More than $15,000 had been raised for Mr Dunning by lunch time today. 

You can also email his daughter-in-law Sonja at smaria@csu.edu.au for more information on how to donate.

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