Clive Jones was picking out kitchen flooring just before he got the call that he shouldn’t bother: Their house was consumed by a wall of fire.
If he was superstitious he might have known, since they moved into the house on a Friday the 13th and it was destroyed over 10 years later on another Friday the 13th.
The news from the deputy fire chief was hard to hear.
“There were 20 seconds of silence followed by ‘you’re joking,’ which of course he wasn’t,” Clive said.
“The jokes we made with friends in Sackville over a barbecue and a couple of beers came true.”
A 30-metre wide wall of fire with flames 12 metres high attacked the house on Candy Mountain Road from the brush behind. Nothing is standing except for the chimney and the foundation wall, but the family is hoping to be escorted into the evacuation area to see the damage themselves.
“We’re going to sift through the wreckage to see if there’s anything there at all of a life we had before,” he said.
Only one other house has been destroyed, two houses down from them the Joneses. Clive said that, coincidentally, they were deciding between those two particular houses when they moved into the neighbourhood a decade ago.
“So no matter which one we bought, we’d be in the same boat today,” he said.
His wife, Kim, was the last one to see the house. Their 27-year-old daughter Faye also lived there.
At the time Kim thought she was just being evacuated, so she closed the windows, grabbed her medication and for some reason snagged her grandmother’s wedding ring too.
“I keep beating myself up because there are loads of things that you could have grabbed, but you just didn’t think about it,” she said.
The situation is surreal and won’t really set in until they see the rubble, she added.
“That happens to other people,” said Clive. “Today we’re other people.”