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Family of 10 left with nothing after fire destroys their home

Ray and Reta Milovale and their children
Source: New Zealand Herald

Auckland, NEW ZEALAND — A South Auckland family have been left with nothing but the clothes on their backs after a fire destroyed their home and everything in it.

Now the family of 10 are staying in a couple of rooms in a motel until they can find another house but they'll never recover precious belongings and photos.

Ray and Reta Milovale, and their eight children, stood watching the flames engulf their Papatoetoe home on Sunday night, overcome by loss and helplessness.

Only four days earlier, they had laid Reta's mother to rest after she passed away from ovarian cancer. Extended family were staying with them from Australia and Samoa.

Ray had just returned home from work on Sunday and was watching TV in bed when his 3-year-old son came screaming down the hallway and alerted him to the fire.

The smoke alarms went off and Ray rushed to the lounge to find a small fire on one of the sofa cushions.

"I grabbed a pot of water and chucked it over it, but it didn't do anything, so I ran outside to get the hose and by the time I got back the whole lounge was just gone.

"It was so fast, I wasn't gone for more than a minute. I've never seen anything like that," he said.

While Ray continued to fight the fire, Reta and her father worked to get the children to safety.

In a nearby room, Ray's brother-in-law, his wife and three children had to smash a window to clamber out to safety.

"We all went to the road and actually watched our house burn down. I just broke down and started shouting and screaming. My wife was crying," Ray said.

A Fire and Emergency spokesman said four crews arrived just before midnight, to a house well involved in fire.

Crews extinguished the fire, and left at 2am, only to return again at 8.40am after the fire flared up again.

"We lost everything in that fire. We only had the clothes on our back," Ray said.

Ray's sister Crystal Fetalaiga has created a Givealittle page to help the family get back on their feet.

"Any help during this difficult time is much appreciated," she wrote.

Read more at New Zealand Herald