Family overwhelmed by fire appeal

AN APPEAL for clothing and blankets to assist Varr Smallwood, who lost all her possessions in a fire last week, has attracted a wave of community support, with whitegoods, bedding and furniture among items donated to the family.

Ms Smallwood and her four children, two girls aged 13 and 12 and two boys aged eight and four, were left empty-handed after the fire swept through their Tweed Heads South home and claimed all their belongings last Wednesday.

Despite the fire breaking out in a front room of the Altair Street home, authorities later told Ms Smallwood she could not salvage any of her family's possessions due to smoke damage and the risk of asbestos. The house is a Department of Housing property and Ms Smallwood was not insured for any of the contents.

Shana Lazer, a close friend of Ms Smallwood, has been collecting donations on her behalf along with support from staff at the Minjungbal Aboriginal Museum.

Ms Lazer said the community support had been overwhelming, with beds, drawers, a fridge, a microwave, a washer and dryer set, towels and clothing donated.

They have even doubled up on a number of large items, with Ms Lazer saying anything that could not be used would have to be donated to local charity stores.

"People have been really generous," she said.

"The museum called and they have heaps of stuff down there."

Ms Lazer said her friend was very appreciative of the support she had received during what was a difficult time.

"She is very appreciative," she said. "She's doing okay, she's pretty strong actually."

Ms Smallwood and her sons, as well as her nephew, seven months, and a family friend were in the house when the fire broke out. Her daughters were away on a holiday.

The 32-year-old was yesterday expecting to hear from NSW Housing, who were organising alternative accommodation for the family.



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