Kindness of strangers rescues fire victims
Dean Reed and his daughters L-R Bethany,6 and Madyson,9 lost everything in house fire. The Canberra community has donated many items to the family. Photo: Melissa Adams
The Reeds thought they had lost everything when fire tore through their Lyons home, destroying everything but the clothes they wore.
But, as is often the case with tales of hardship, their plight has brought out a heart-warming display of human compassion.
Dean Reed and his daughters Bethany, 6, and Madyson, 9, were walking home from an afternoon in a nearby park on Monday, when they saw smoke coming from their street.
As the house came into view, the Reeds found a chaotic scene of firefighters, police, an ambulance and a gathering crowd of neighbours.
''I was in shock. Madyson started crying straight away, she was saying 'Daddy, this is our house', and that's when I broke down,'' Mr Reed said.
''They took me inside the house. Everything in the lounge room was smoke and water damaged. The kitchen, dining room and the laundry were completely gone, there was no roof left,'' he said.
''You couldn't even see the carpet, it was just ash everywhere, it was just black, everything was just ruined.''
The family had lost everything. Mr Reed feared for the shock it may cause his girls, particularly Bethany, who suffers from cerebral palsy, dysplasia and epilepsy.
Mr Reed posted on a local Buy, Swap, Sell site on Facebook, asking if anyone could donate anything to help out.
The response was, in Mr Reed's words, overwhelming.
The family was inundated with donations. Everything from a car, a fridge, beds, drawers, lounges, televisions, landscaping at their new Kambah home, clothes, school uniforms and toiletries.
''The house would be empty, I'd have nothing still if it wasn't for everyone who came through for us. We wouldn't have anything,'' he said.
''The way everyone has just pulled together for us, it's just amazing.''
Both the girls' schools - Curtin Primary School and Malkara School - have helped support Madyson and Bethany during their first week of school.
The fire, which is believed to have started in the clothes dryer, has affected both the girls greatly.
''We went back to the house [on Saturday] to meet a mate and Madyson was shaking, she didn't want to be there,'' Mr Reed said.
''She's had really bad nightmares. She's been a bit panicky. She goes around now and makes sure all the power points are turned off.''
Mr Reed is planning to have a barbecue for all of those who have helped him and his daughters, including his stepdaughter's boyfriend, Ashley Duvall, who was ferrying the donated goods well into the early hours of the morning last week.