'Incredible' offers take sting from blaze

GUTTED: David Hartley doubts anything can be saved from his property apart from some scrap metal.
GUTTED: David Hartley doubts anything can be saved from his property apart from some scrap metal.

Offers of help are pouring in for the elderly couple who lost their home in Thursday's wildfire.

David and Deanna Hartley, both in their 70s, were left with little more than the clothes on their back when fire destroyed their Shands Rd home.

The couple have no insurance after mistakenly allowing it to lapse while overseas, and they were then refused cover after the September 2010 earthquake.

Benchmark Homes have offered to build the family a new house for cost.

Sales team leader Scott Harris said the company would provide free plans and project management and ask suppliers for reduced prices.

The couple's son, Clive Hartley, said the generous offers of help were "incredible".

"A lot of good has come out of what seems a bad situation," he said.

Standing yesterday amid the ruins of the home he built himself in 1975, David Hartley said he doubted whether there was anything apart from some scrap tin that could be salvaged.

"It's one of those things you can never prepare your mind for," he said. "It's a shock - just one of those days when things couldn't have been worse."

"It's been a fantastic place to live.

"My children grew up here. It's been a fantastic journey."

Deanna Hartley said they had virtually nothing left. "I've got $60."

The couple have received one good piece of news since the blaze - their jack russell-cross, Diesel, which they feared had perished in the fire, came home.

The dog came bounding up to them, barking, as they surveyed the wreckage of their home late on Thursday night.

Diesel was at the vet yesterday being treated for smoke inhalation.

The couple plan on staying with their daughter for the next couple of weeks but do not know where they will go after that. They raised six children in their family home, where they lived for nearly 40 years.

Their plight has touched the hearts of many Press readers and offers of help have poured in.

The Selwyn District Council is accepting donations for the Hartleys and others affected by the fire.

You can also contribute at the website: givealittle.co.nz/cause/selwynfire.

The Press