Call to help fire-loss family

Warren HatelyAugusta Margaret River Times
The Shaw family are homeless after a fire last week in Margaret River.
Camera IconThe Shaw family are homeless after a fire last week in Margaret River. Credit: eyJpdiI6InRcL2U1WWJcL1pcL2s3Qk9CTTBHYWdaSVE9PSIsInZhbHVlIjoiK0VDMU5NMlVQVngzYWdUbm4xdUhiSjdqK1AyN1lXVEtEMzlzY1dXcERNWlVVM0VLM2lQ

A Margaret River family who lost everything in a house fire last week has thanked the community for its “incredible” support.

Bec and Jamie Shaw and their three children are staying with family in the area after fire tore through their Station Road rental at 3am on Thursday, September 12.

The blaze started after the couple’s six-year-old, who has autism, found a supposedly childproof lighter and somehow set the family’s living room couch alight.

Mrs Shaw told the Times her son suffered insomnia as well, and the family had struggled to get any support for him until last week’s disaster.

“With his autism, he didn’t understand the danger at the time,” she said.

“We’ve been begging for help.

“We tried putting it out, but the house being old, it hit the roof. We lost everything. The fire took hold very quickly.”

The house was insured and no charges would come from the accident. But the family is desperately in need of a pet-friendly rental.

The community and local businesses have rallied around the family, but the children in particular lost all their toys, clothes, and personal effects, including her daughter’s new guitar.

Mrs Shaw’s sister has started a GoFundMe page to raise $5000 for costs, but donations were lacking at the time of going to press.

Mrs Shaw said her children’s schools had replaced uniforms, school bags and stationery, but she and her husband lost most of their personal possessions.

Mr Shaw’s guns were safely stored in the home, but escaped damage from the intense fire which made the house a write-off.

The family thanked their “awesome landlord” who the Times understands was insured.

But now they need a home.

“We need to find a home and get back to normal as soon as possible,” Mrs Shaw said.

“I don’t want to break my kids’ hearts further.”

The couple’s son is now signed up for a Department of Fire and Emergency Services fire safety course, and Mrs Shaw said the Wallcliffe Volunteer Bushfire Brigade had taken the boy under its wing.

Since the fire, the family had offers of help for her son’s autism, but Mrs Shaw said her previous efforts hit a wall amid bureaucracy and high costs from private services.

“He’s very high-maintenance, hyperactivity-wise,” she said.

“Now they’re all coming out of the woodwork, but it shouldn’t take something like this for people to go ‘Hang on a minute, they needed help’.”

Making matters worse, the fire coincided with the two-year anniversary of Mrs Shaw’s father’s death, which brought the family back to Margaret River after seven years in Victoria.

“Margaret River and surrounds has always been home to me,” Mrs Shaw told the Times.

She said she went straight back to work at Cowaramup’s Western Meat Processors as a way to cope, while taxi driver Jamie was also back on the job.

“If I didn’t go back to work, I would’ve crumpled in a heap,” Mrs Shaw said.

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