Life rebuilt after blaze
IN APRIL last year, a policeman phoned Louise Van Dartel while she was driving home and warned her she was in for a shock when she reached her street.
Six fire trucks surrounded her house at Alstonvale. She stood with her husband Theo and watched everything she owned burn to the ground. All she could feel was numbness.
Yesterday, The Northern Star visited Louise, Theo, Veyda, 10, and Finola, 17, at their newly-built home on the exact same spot where they lost everything 18 months ago.
It was an electrical fire, with the plasma television the possible cause of the blaze, Mr Van Dartel said.
The family spent three months living at a motel in Alstonville before moving into their double garage and have been touched by the kindness from the community since the fire.
The Ballina Bowling Club, where Mr Van Dartel works, raised $7000 for the family, while the childrens' schools helped out with uniforms and the Salvation Army gave them clothes and goods.
Builder Dennis Parrish, from the Ring Group, gave them an extra helping hand when rebuilding their home.
“I give a bit of extra time to people who have been though something like this. I've been at jobs where the firemen are still rolling up their hoses,” he said.
Mrs Van Dartel's advice to home owners is to check their insurance and make sure it covers the cost of replacing your house and surrounds. They had only just increased their insurance a few months before the fire.