Family of four left without home after fire guts house
TESS Carr doesn't usually light candles; but on this fateful night, she did.
She prefers the solar lights she had been using over the past several days, but those ran out of power.
The generator caused too much of a ruckus for a next-door neighbour, who had been yelling at them every night for the past several days to shut down the power supplier.
Unbeknown to him, on this particular night, the Carrs' generator was off.
But she needed light so her two sons (who have autism) could sleep; she needed it desperately.
Candles, to her dissatisfaction, were the only means she had to mellow her two boys into a slumber: the boys couldn't sleep without a light and they were rolling into their fifth day without electricity.
Tess decided to place candles into a baking dish, which she placed on a kitchen table.
There was now enough light for the boys to settle down for the night.
She laid down with one of her sons, contemplating the hard slog-of-a-day she had accomplished. The clean up was headache enough.
She had been clearing trees and analysing the damage to the side of her house following Marcia's destruction last Friday.
Slowly, her eye lids grew heavier and heavier and the day was forgotten about in the permanent bat of an eyelid.
Shrilling sounds of alarm jolted Tess from her deep sleep.
Husband Elliott rushed downstairs to fetch the red hydrant fire hose, hauled it upstairs and doused the flames darting about in the kitchen windows of their Glenmore Rd house.
It (the fire) was near the bookcase in the kitchen, next to all of Tess's paper work.
"I grabbed my boy and we raced downstairs... my husband was saying go, go, go; there was smoke everywhere," Tess said.
"I got my eldest out the front door and shot back inside to get my youngest, but my eldest came back inside... he was disorientated because he had just woken up from his sleep; his name is Sebastian.
"We got out to the fence and that's when I called 000. We were standing outside and I just started screaming 'Elliott, Elliott' because he was still inside... meanwhile our neighbour is yelling at us to turn off our generator."
Eventually, Elliott (who has a congenital heart defect) walked out of the house safely. He had some smoke inhalation but was otherwise unscathed.
"He's one of the strongest men I know... after this first response, he refused treatment from the ambos," Elliott's wife Tess said.
Meanwhile the neighbour was still yelling at Tess and her family for the noise from the generator.
It wasn't their generator making noise though, it was from another neighbour.
The Carr family couldn't stay at the house because the smoke damage was too bad.
Tess is an asthmatic and the fire had destroyed her nebuliser.
The family ended up leaving their home because the place was riddled with smoke damage.
All her two sons wanted was a strawberry and chocolate milk.
It was about 2am when Tess and Elliott drove to four servos in search of strawberry and chocolate milk.
With their thirsts well quenched, the boys were ready to settle down again for the night.
Tess and Elliott drove their sons over to an aunty's place, so they didn't have to be confronted by the trauma at their home.
Tess says when her sons' routines are disrupted, their world almost comes to an end.
Tess and Elliott drove to a granny flat of theirs at another property in Park Avenue.
When they got there, Elliott switched off his phone to save battery power.
He got up later that morning and raced back to their house in Glenmore Rd to get ready for work.
When he got there, the house was destroyed.
They don't know how a second fire started. "We can't go back there because the house has asbestos; and because of this, it will cost more to fix than what things are worth.
"We want to try to get stuff out of the backyard, especially our chickens.
"We want people who have asbestos in their homes to know that they risk losing everything... we have."
By chance a Lend Lease Group worker was travelling past the house after the fire. A few moments later the worker returned with his boss Pat Donlan, who told Tess and Elliott there was a Quest Rockhampton apartment available for them and their sons.
"We want to thank Pat and everyone else from the bottom of our hearts for their support."