Family loses all in Banora Point blaze

A DEVASTATING house fire has torn apart the life of Banora Point resident Julie Convine, her three young children and a family friend less than five days after settling into their new home.

Ms Convine, her children Nicholas, 4, Chloe, 6 and Jake, 7 and friend Thomas Gilbert moved into their rented accommodation in Lochlomond Drive on Christmas Eve.

But their early Christmas present was torn away from them yesterday morning when a fire broke out just before 5am.

Ms Convine, asleep in her room at the back of the house, was awoken by the barking of her Maltese-cross shih tzu dog, Indy.

"The dog was barking, then I heard a bang and I thought someone was in the house," Ms Convine said.

"I ran and told Tom and he went to check and he saw the fire."

Ms Convine and Mr Gilbert, dressed only in underwear and boxer shorts, escaped unharmed to the backyard with Indy, screaming for help as the house went up in flames.

Nicholas, Chloe and Jake were not in the house at the time, having spent the night at their father's house.

The house was gutted within 10 minutes and it took three hours for Tweed Heads fire brigade to bring the blaze under control.

Forensic officers began combing through the ruins late yesterday morning as shocked neighbours gazed into the burnt-out house from behind police tape -- charred possessions and unpacked moving boxes visible through the broken windows.

Only the brick shell of the house remains standing, the roof having caved in as the interior timber walls crumbled in the intense heat.

The house is now a shell with the centre of the roof caved but the brick walls still upright.

Returning to the scene to assess the damage yesterday morning, wearing clothes provided by her mother, Ms Convine broke down in tears at the sight of her destroyed home, finding comfort in the arms of her sister, Michelle Russell.

"It just doesn't seem real," an emotional Ms Convine said.

"I lost everything I owned. The kids' Christmas presents, the unpacked boxes and all our furniture.

"You can't put a price on the photos of the kids."

Ms Convine's children have nothing left except their pyjamas and a spare outfit each.

An insurance policy was yet to be taken out on the house and its content.

Ms Russell said she was thankful no-one was hurt.

"I told her at least the kids weren't home at the time," Ms Russell said.

"We never got to see the new place. We are just happy to see that she, Tom and Indy are all okay."

The rented house was the next step for Ms Convine's family, who were living in a small townhouse in Tweed Heads South prior to the move.

"Chloe just got her own room for the first time in her life. She loved doing her hair and make-up in there," Ms Convine said.

"I just wanted more room for the kids to play."

The 47-year-old has taken up temporary residence with her mother in Piggabeen.

Tweed Heads police senior constable Wayne King said the cause of the fire was not known.



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