Darren Maddox holds family dog Ollie after a house fire tore through his Thangool property.
Darren Maddox holds family dog Ollie after a house fire tore through his Thangool property. Andrew Thorpe

Dog saves family-of-four after alerting them to house fire

DARREN Maddox is thankful to be alive after a fire tore through his home at Thangool on Saturday morning.

Mr Maddox, his wife and two sons escaped safely after family dog Ollie woke them as the fire began to burn in their kitchen.

"I ran into one room and got my two-year-old out, my wife's run down the other end of the house to get the animals out of the house and wake up the 13-year old," he said.

"I reckon it was about 10 minutes tops between just the smoke in the kitchen and the whole house going up." The damage is extensive, with the roof over the kitchen and living room gutted, meaning the house is likely to be demolished.

Despite the extent of the damage, Mr Maddox said he was surprised by how quickly his emotions had turned around over the past few days.

"When we made the call to 000 and just had to stand there and watch it all go up in flames, it's a weird feeling, it's hard to explain - you've lost everything you worked so hard in your life to get," he said.

"But pretty soon after that it's sort of turned out to be not too bad.

"We're quite lucky, we're all safe. Everything material can be replaced."

Mostly responsible for turning his mood around has been support from the community.

"Everyone has been amazing," Mr Maddox said.

"The fire brigade, they were sensational. We only had the clothes on our back and that was it, so they went and gave us towels and opened the fire station up for us to have a shower and bought us a carton of milk for tea and coffee and bickies."

But the family was most surprised by an act of generosity from an anonymous donor.

"We were in Woolworths Saturday morning to buy some groceries, and one of the employees has come up and said 'here, someone's given you one of these cards and said sorry it's not much but I hope it helps'," Mr Maddox said.

"It was a $50 food voucher, and we couldn't track the person down to say thank you," he said.

"What a great gesture, what a great community. To do that sort of thing, it's just amazing."

After living in the home for seven or eight years, the family was unsure whether or not they would rebuild on the land or move on.

"We'll see how the insurance turns out and then think about that I think," Mr Maddox said.

"The one thing I know is I always used to complain because (Ollie's) a yappy dog, barks at his own shadow, but I tell you what I won't complain about him ever again."

A report into the cause looks likely to identify either a toaster or a phone charger plugged into a power point in the kitchen as the cause.


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