SURVIVAL: Traveston family members almost certain death when one of them heard the ceiling blaze that destroyed their house, almost around them.
SURVIVAL: Traveston family members almost certain death when one of them heard the ceiling blaze that destroyed their house, almost around them. Bec Singh

Gympie blaze survivor: 'Lucky my son's a light sleeper'

"NOBODY died, we got out safely. We're insured.

"It could have been a lot worse," Traveston district house fire victim Ben Croton said yesterday.

Dr Croton saw things in perspective yesterday as he counted his blessings after he and his family survived the disaster that destroyed his family's home.

But a disaster is not a tragedy. And Dr Croton says his family knows the difference.

"My sister-in-law was killed on the Bruce Hwy in 2008, in one of the terrible accidents that may have helped kick start the upgrade project," he said.

"I work in a hospital emergency ward and my wife is a nurse. We see tragedy often."

But the difference can be a close thing, as it was when a suspected fireplace chimney problem started the blaze which quickly destroyed the Croton family's century-old home in the early hours of Sunday morning.

"I called the fire brigade at 1.30am and they were here in nine minutes," he said.

But even then there was nothing that could be done.

It was all a lot better than being inside as the fire spread in the ceiling, destroying the home's structural integrity and ultimately bringing the whole building crashing down.

Only a slight cracking or popping noise gave the alarm.

"Something in the iron roof popped out and made just enough noise. Lucky my son's a light sleeper.

"The smoke alarms didn't go off because there was no smoke inside.

"We got out before the roof came crashing down," he said.

And that was the fine difference that saved Dr Croton, his wife and their two children from almost certain death.

"Life's been good to us," he said, expressing his gratitude for all the offers of help which have come in from friends and neighbours.

"We've got supportive relatives and we're very appreciative of the community's concern," he said.

"We're waiting on the fire investigators' final report but we think it's likely to be the fireplace.

"With all the wet weather, dry weather, the warm days and cold nights, we think the structure shifted enough to cause a slight crack in the flue."

Gympie Times


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