Tauranga fire: “We’re grateful to have each other”

The family lost everything in a house fire in June. Photos/Video: Cameron Avery/SunLive.

A Givealittle page is being set up to help a family whose home was destroyed by a fire in Welcome Bay.

Fire broke out in the home of the Van Noordwyk family on June 24.

“We were sitting down for a late dinner with friends when the fire alarm went off,” says Mr and Mrs VN.

“We moved quickly towards it and realised there was smoke coming from one of the bedrooms.”

The couple grabbed the children from their beds and moved everyone to safety.

“We came in with a fire extinguisher minutes later, but it was no use by then.

 “Even though the fire service were very prompt, our house was totally engulfed in flames by the time the Fire service arrived. If they hadn’t arrived when they did, I’m sure the houses around us would have been damaged.”

They say if it hadn’t been for working smoke alarms, “it’s terrible to think what could have been”.

This is not the first obstacle the Tauranga family has had to endure recently.

During the pandemic, they were separated for 18 months. They were in the process of moving to New Zealand from South Africa when the pandemic hit.

Mr VN was already in New Zealand and Mrs VN was to follow, but couldn’t as the borders were closed.

Mrs VN had to fly to her home country, Germany, to have their baby.

By the time she managed to get into NZ, their son was 11 months old.

“You could say we have had a challenging time, but we are a strong, resilient family.

“We are grateful to have each other.”

The couple are also very grateful for the help and hospitality of their neighbours following the fire.

“Our neighbours were great - they opened their home to us while the fire was dealt with as it was a cold night being barefoot and not having any blankets to warm the kids.”

The Welcome Bay family are currently staying friend until they can find a place to move into.

They say the response from the community has been overwhelming.

“We are still coming to grips with what has happened, so it has been hard to even work out how to respond to the heartfelt kindness and offers of support.

“Offers of clothing, vouchers, and baking, dinners, household items have been rolling in which have been so appreciated.

“Our landlord and the property manager have been amazing. Thank goodness they were on to it with regular fire alarm checks.

“We would also like to thank the fire department who did such an amazing job.”

Mr and Mrs VN says they have been offered so many items, but because they don’t yet have their forever home, and nowhere to store any donations, friends have set up a donations & message register for people to pop down what they are offering.

“That way when we have somewhere to move to we can reach out.”

People wanting to donate, can do so here: https://forms.office.com/r/iLam0F4Ttx

People wanting to help financially can also donate through the Givealittle page.

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