Fire victim's heart-stopping moments until partner found
FOR what seemed like forever, Ben Challen didn't know where his partner was.
"I got a phone call about five to six, from my mum, saying, 'Get home now, the place is on fire, I'm not joking, go go go'."
Speaking outside his gutted Venus St home on Friday, the life-long Gladstone resident said he'd been sure his two daughters were with their mother.
His parents, who also lived in the home, were away as well.
"But I didn't know if Tameika was here or not."
The confusion meant that when fire units arrived, firefighters had to sweep both floors of the blazing home.
They found it empty - and by the time Mr Challen arrived, he knew his partner was safe.
Even his three dogs, which had been in the backyard, were located.
Now, the family must grapple with the police assessment: that the fire is suspicious, and could have been deliberately lit.
And the family of six - Mr Challen and his partner, his two children, and his two parents, have had their lives thrown into chaos.
"We've only got the clothes on our back, and the clothes on the clothesline. Everything else is gone," Mr Challen said.