Family flees home inferno
By RENEE REDMOND
WHEN Tony Narai woke to the crackling noise of his back verandah ablaze, he yelled out to his family to get outside quick.
The fire had started after two candles were left burning on the verandah while Tony and his wife Paulette had put their two children, Isaac, 9, and Rhiannon, 3, to bed at 9pm on Sunday.
"We were reading them a story but fell asleep. I woke up a bit before 1am to find the floorboards in the lounge room on fire," the Coorabell architect said.
"We had intended to return to the verandah and blow the candles out before going to bed.
"I yelled out to my wife to grab the kids and get outside. I guess I could have gone back in to get some of our things, but I didn't want to risk it.
"I'm just glad I woke up in time."
The family, who had been asleep at the front of the 1925 timber house, ran outside and watched helplessly as fire gutted the building.
Tony alerted his neighbour, Rural Fire Brigade volunteer Jeff Wadsworth, who immediately attended the home off Coolamon Scenic Drive.
"I came over straight away and called for back-up, but it was too late. The house only took 10 minutes to go up in flames," Jeff said.
Seven Rural Fire Service trucks attended with firefighters still at the scene at 9.30am yesterday.
Tweed/Byron local area commander, Inspector Owen King, said investigators said the fire was accidental.
"The house and contents were destroyed. We estimate more than $200,000 in damage," he said.
Tony said his family had lived in the house for the past eight years and had planned to expand on it.
"We're going to have to start from scratch now," he said.
"We've already been offered a place to stay with friends until we get back on our feet."
Tony's wife, Paulette Bray-Narai said she was still in shock yesterday morning.
"I can't believe two cheap 10c candles burnt our whole bloody house down," she said.
Tony said the timber home was built in 1925 and renovated in 1950.
"We had just built a new verandah and I had drawn up plans to extend the home," he said.
The house was insured, but there was a lot that cannot be replaced.
Tony said if he had had access to a fire extinguisher he could have put out the flames.
"I felt so helpless. The new house will definitely have one," he said.