Sleeping on ute tray after fire destroys his cottage home

A LOWMEAD man has been left with nothing but the shirt on his back after a fire tore through the 40-year-old railway cottage he was living in.

After the fire came through and took everything three weeks ago; Rod Sorrenson has been living among the charred remains of the house and sleeping on a $10 mattress thrown on to the back of his ute.

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Rod Sorrenson lost everything in a recent fire at Lowmead and now is sleeping on the back of his ute. Photo Mike Richards / The Observer
Rod Sorrenson lost everything in a recent fire at Lowmead and now is sleeping on the back of his ute. Photo Mike Richards / The Observer Mike Richards GLA121015FIRE

Apart from a short stint at a mate's place, Mr Sorrenson has been washing in a small creek at the back of the rural property, collecting water from Baffle Creek and eating "dry food" for most of his meals.

So far no one from the local community has come to help or check up on him.

"No one from Lowmead has come down and given me water, smokes or even beer from the pub," he said.

"I can't even get ice from the pub anymore because they decided I was too negative and banned me," he said.

"I've lost $5000 worth of power tools, $3000 worth of solar gear, generators, three fridges, legal documents and all the gear I had for my 30ft Swanson boat."

"If I could be anywhere I'd be on that boat."

On the day of destruction it was hot and windy and Mr Sorrenson was relaxing on the veranda reading a book with his dog Knuckles when he noticed the fire burning across his neighbour's property.

"Within five minutes it came across quick and high and I grabbed my laptop, the dog and just got out with the shirt on my back," he said.

"The fire jumped the ute and by the time I got to the top of the driveway I saw the black smoke and knew the house had gone."

He said it took five minutes after he reached the top of the narrow and tree-covered driveway before the gas cylinders exploded.

A plastic wheelbarrow was the only item of Rod's to come through the inferno intact.

"I've got nothing left. No water. No generator. No nothing," he said.

"I can't even afford to rent a house."

Mr Sorrenson has been out of work for the past five years because of a back injury; prior to that he sailed up and down the coast and worked as a fitter.

When asked what he had been doing to fill in the time, Rod said he'd been "walking around in circles".

"It's really boring when you've had an active life," he said.

The old house, now in cinders and outlined by heat-buckled tin, had two bedrooms, a bathroom and kitchen and two sitting areas.

Mr Sorrenson does not own the house but said he believes the owner's house insurance had run out.

"The police said the fire might have started from a cigarette but I don't know. I haven't heard back from anyone yet," he said.

The Observer contacted Rosedale Police station and left a message at the station but has not heard back.

With only Knuckles to keep Rod company, he is feeling down about his lot.

However he did ask with a smile for people swimming in his drinking water to refrain from "p**sing in it" for the foreseeable future.

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