Remnants of a home

Community rallies to help unlucky couple

Last updated 05:00 25/03/2014

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A recently-wed Winchester couple, whose house burnt down when a car crashed into a power pole, have been overwhelmed with support from the community.

Simon and Samantha Norton said they were woken up by a "huge bang" on Sunday morning, only to discover their house ablaze within "a matter of seconds".

Mr Norton said the couple had lost "just about everything" in the fire, including the photos and gifts from their wedding, which was held just three weeks ago.

Mrs Norton said in the past 24 hours the couple had been overwhelmed with offers of help from the community.

"We simply don't know where we're going to put it all. There have been nearly two truck-and-trailer-loads full of gifts, food and supplies," she said.

"A 3-year-old left a card for us, asking if our son, Jack, wanted someone to play with."

Mr Norton said the fire happened so quickly, the family couldn't tell what was going on.

"We were lucky Jack was already awake and in the lounge," Mr Norton said.

"We grabbed our daughter, Lexie, our laptop, and just rushed outside.

"The whole place burned so quickly.

"It's Lexie's first birthday today. We had hoped for a less stressful one."

The fire occurred after a 1997 Mitsubishi Pajero, travelling north with three occupants, collided with the pole on State Highway 1 at 6.30am on Sunday, just outside the Nortons' house in Erskine Rd, Winchester.

The high-voltage lines then clashed with low-voltage circuitry, causing a spectacular power surge affecting 1200 households in the Winchester, Orari, Geraldine and Temuka areas.

There were no injuries, but police are still making inquiries into the cause of the crash.

As a result of the crash power was out to more than 1200 homes in the area for most of Sunday, but contractors from lines company Alpine Energy have since repaired the fault.

"People just came from all around to help. Some of them would have had their own problems, or been without power. It really makes you feel so grateful for the community spirit," Mrs Norton said.

Mr Norton said the insurance company would assess the damage.

The couple bought the house about two years ago.

At the moment they are staying with their family, but Mr Norton said they needed to find a place to rent.

"We're not sure what's going to happen to our home," he said. "We were due to renovate the place."

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- The Timaru Herald

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