Casino community backs fire family in time of need
A WEEK after a fire burned through her rented Casino home, mother-of-four, Kirsty O'Reilly was still in shock.
She could not believe she had lost everything.
"You hear about it happening to other people," she said.
The kindness of family, friends, local businesses and strangers had been overwhelming.
Family friend Cherie Chapman set up a Go Fund Me site to raise $15,000 to replace the family's household belongings.
Ms Chapman lived behind Ms O'Reilly and saw the smoke and heard sirens on January 18.
After the drama, and when everyone knew the family was safe, Ms Chapman checked with Ms O'Reilly about setting up the crowdfunder.
"The help has been out of this world. I haven't been able to keep up," Ms Chapman said.
Her motivation was simple.
"If it happened to me, I hope someone would help," she said.
The community had been generous in donating furniture and other household goods to Ms Chapman's house, which was a drop-off point until the O'Reilly family found a new place to live.
Generosity was found in unexpected places, Ms O'Reilly said.
"I went into the hardware shop to get new keys cut and they did it for free," she said.
Later in the day, with her daughter at a cafe, their order of chips was given to them for free by the owner, she said.
Her four daughters are aged 18, 16, 14 and 8.
Three managed to salvage at least one object from their bedrooms.
The 14-year-old's bedroom was burnt to the ground and there was nothing left, Ms O'Reilly said.
"She was away at her nan's in Sydney for eight days and when she returned all she had was the suitcase she was carrying," she said.
She had her camera and books in the suitcase.
Ms O'Reilly had stored her children's mementos, school reports and photos in the back of the house and most could be saved, she said.
Other photos, happily, she could retrieve from people who also had them on computers.
Ms O'Reilly was at the dentist with two of her daughters when the fire broke out.
The cause of the fire in the rented property is currently under investigation.
Ms Chapman said Ms O'Reilly did not have household insurance which was why the crowdfunding mattered.
As of Monday, the fund was at $1340.
A big push is needed to reach the $15,000 target.
To donate as little as $10 go to the Go Fund Me website here.