Duvauchelle home destroyed in fire

ASHES: Barbara and Bruce Kay at the remains of their Duvauchelle home.
ASHES: Barbara and Bruce Kay at the remains of their Duvauchelle home.

As their house went up in flames in the dead of night, a retired Duvauchelle couple battled the blaze in their pyjamas, armed with only a garden hose.

The fire quickly won the fight.

Barbara and Bruce Kay have been left with little more than the clothes on their backs when a fire, most likely ignited by an electrical fault, tore through their house last Wednesday.

REMAINS: Coins recovered from a melted piggy bank.
REMAINS: Coins recovered from a melted piggy bank.

The couple have been living in their caravan for the past four nights and, despite having full insurance, they expect to remain homeless for years.

"We will be in the caravan for as long as it takes. With the earthquakes, trying to get a builder will take years," Barbara Kay said.

The pair woke at midnight on January 16 to what they thought was the sound of a possum throwing walnuts on the roof.

When they went outside to investigate, there was an ominous smell of smoke.

With 68-year-old Barbara Kay in a nightie and 69-year-old Bruce Kay in pyjama bottoms, the pair tried to tackle the flames coming from the garage.

The power was cut before they could open the garage door, and the fire quickly spread.

Their house, which was built by Bruce Kay, was well ablaze by the time the Duvauchelle Volunteer Fire Brigade arrived.

"We lost every single thing," Barbara Kay said.

The house, along with all of their belongings, two cars and two quad bikes were consumed by the fire.

Photos, wedding rings and "special things" belonging to the daughter the pair lost 15 years ago were lost.

"We watched our house burn but the shock still hasn't sunk in. I haven't cried yet," Barbara Kay said.

What pulled at her emotions the most was not thinking about all she had lost, but the kindness of neighbours, relatives and friends who had banded together to help clothe and feed the couple.

"One of my granddaughter's gave me a pair of her fluffy orange socks to wear. That was the first time I thought I was going to cry," she said.

After the Prebbleton fires, the Duvauchelle couple sympathised with the families who had lost everything, but they "never dreamed we would be next".

"It's strange because we got through the quake and had no damage at all, and I was recently thinking about how lucky we were," Barbara Kay said.

The Press