Community support for pregnant woman who lost van in fire
A BYRON Bay woman who witnessed last Saturday's van fire in Bangalow has launched a community appeal on behalf of its owner, which has in turn prompted a huge outpouring of support from the Byron Shire community.
Byron resident Magira Holmes has told how she heard an explosion on Saturday morning while at the Bangalow sporting fields with her daughter.
"We saw this Volkswagon just engulfed in flames," Ms Holmes recalled.
"The smoke got so intense that we'd had to leave."
Ms Holmes explained that she recognised the van was not just a car, but someone's home.
"I got home and it just didn't sit right; I used to own a Volkswagon (Kombi) and we had a code," she said.
"Whenever I was broken down on the road, people would stop and help me.
"If I had lost my van (then) it would have destroyed my world."
So Ms Holmes posted on The Northern Star's Facebook page (below) asking if she could help the owner - and made contact.
The owner was 30-year-old former traveller from Melbourne, Hailey Ryan, who was seven months pregnant and until very recently had called the Kombi home before settling in The Channon.
So Ms Holmes again used the power of social media, this time posting an appeal on the Byron Bay Buy Swap and Sell Facebook page asking for donations of baby goods for the mum-to-be.
Within an hour of posting the appeal she was inundated with offers of support.
"It's been overwhelming, it's been amazing," Ms Holmes said.
"We have been contacted by over 50 people who want to donate," she posted on Facebook last night.
"Someone has donated A CAR. A car!
"She now has a pram, cots, a car seat, a sling, a swing, a carrier, clothes, blankets, toys, nappies and so much more.
"She and I have both decided to donate what she doesn't need to the St Kilda's Mums Charity group who distribute to The Asylum Seekers Resource Centre.
"What an amazing community we live in. I seriously thought only a few people would respond. I can't even begin to express my gratitude."
Mum-to-be Hailey Ryan said she was thankful for the helping hand.
And even though she lost a lot in the fire, she said the situation could have been much worse.
"It was amazing timing, two months earlier I was living in it, and two month later I would have had a baby in it," she said.
"Even where it happened. I don't normally drive in Bangalow, I'm usually on country road where I might not have reception.
"It was a bit of a blessing in disguise."