AN explosion probably saved Bary Barford’s life.
The loud bang woke him from his sleep about 3.30am on Friday, alerting him to the fact his caravan and annexe at the Suncoast Caravan Park was on fire.
The 76-year-old said he barely escaped before the caravan, his home of the past five years after selling a house that was “too big”, erupted in flames.
“It went up that quick it was unbelievable,” he said.
“My steel bed melted and buckled, so I don’t think there would have been anything left of me if I’d have stayed in the van, not even bones,” Barry said.
He added he had never been so thankful for an explosion, which he believed was probably a water heater exploding in the area where the fire appeared to have started.
“If I hadn’t heard that bang I would have died,” he said.
Once the explosion woke him “I took off,” Barry said, even breaking two toes while falling down steps on the way out.
He ran to a nearby fire hose but it was too late to save the van which contained all his worldly possessions.
Instead, he and a neighbour trained water on Barry’s car, attempting to save it before a roof collapsed on the vehicle.
Despite the close call, Barry was still smiling and joking soon after his terrifying experience.
“Not to worry, these things happen,” he said.
“I am laughing, because I’m still here to laugh.”
The incident has also reinforced the amount of community support available.
His daughter Karon Barford had helped raise money for other fire victims, and when she mentioned on social media how her father had lost all his possessions she was soon flooded with offers of help including clothes and cash.
“It’s been unbelievable, a lot of people have donated clothes and shoes,” Karon said.
“One woman from St Georges Basin even sent dad some brand new T-shirts.”
Many of those donations were awaiting Barry when he was released from a few hours in hospital, where he was kept for observation following the fire.
Barry said there had even been offers of houses to live in, but for now he was remaining with Karon until things were sorted out.
The support even extended to his bank, with the manager visiting him in hospital and making sure money was available from investments to take care of Barry’s needs, while the ExServos Club handed him vouchers worth hundreds of dollars to help him get back on his feet.
“Everyone’s been fantastic,” Barry said.
The bank’s support had enabled Barry to get a new car much the same as his old one, because “at 76 you’ve got to have wheels, it’s too far to walk into town”.
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