House fire hero: 'Biggest gift to me is everyone was safe'
THE man who came to the aid of a family who lost everything in a house fire last week has been tracked down and thanked for his quick actions.
Rick Barbeler, 46, was driving west along the Bruce Highway with his wife Michelle when he noticed flames emerging from the roof of the Glenella home.
He told Mrs Barbeler to turn the car around, dialled 000 and investigated the scene.
No one in the house at the time, Mr Barbeler said he noticed a young woman - Kira Battams - mowing part of the paddock adjacent to the house and got her attention.
"That's when she saw the fire as well and when she arrived she got all the kids to run away from the area," he said.
Mr Barbeler remained on the phone to 000 the entire time "explaining that it was a two-storey house, where it was and what the best access was".
He said he also noticed a vehicle under a shade cloth beside the house.
"There were no keys so I knocked it out of gear and pushed it out of the road and just made sure no one went up near the house," he said. "As soon as I heard the fire brigade coming, I went out to the edge of the highway to wave them down. From when I contacted 000 to when they arrived it felt like a lifetime, but it was probably only six minutes but it's amazing how long that six minutes goes."
On Monday he caught up with the family and "had a bit of a chat".
"He [the father] said they were very grateful for stopping and assisting and that if we didn't pull up the house would've been a lot worse than it is," Mr Barbeler said.
Behind every selfless act is always a humble person who refuses to be called a hero.
"I wouldn't say hero as such, I would hope anyone would do a similar thing in the same situation."
"The biggest gift to me is all the kids and everyone was safe... not a good time of the year, hopefully they get back on their feet."