A young family, still reeling from losing their home in a fierce blaze, have hit back at online trolls.
Christine and Adrian Baker’s Ben Drive home is now a ‘bulldozer job’ after it was gutted by a fire that started in the garage on Sunday 10 March.
The couple had people over for dinner when the fire broke out around 8pm. Their two kids were sleeping in their beds.
If it wasn’t for a warning from a stranger who was driving by, the fire may have trapped them.
“The smoke alarms don’t work when the smoke is above the alarm; it went straight up into the roof from the garage,” Adrian said.
“We managed to get some clothes and important documents, but it’s the irreplaceables – the wedding photos, the baby things, the collectables – that’s the stuff we can’t get back.
“The house is a total loss.”
The couple had been SES members for around five years, and their emergency training instincts kicked in.
“We both went straight into that mode; we didn’t panic, we just did what we had to do,” Adrian said.
Christine grabbed the two children, aged three and five, from the house while Adrian suffered second-degree burns to his hands and feet while trying to get their car out of the burning garage.
The two dogs managed to escape, and the cat was later rescued by the CFA from the smouldering house.
At around 6am the following morning, distraught and without a wink of sleep, Christine’s mum Deb set up a GoFundMe page to help the young family, who had just lost everything.
The vitriolic response from certain community pages has devastated the Bakers.
Strangers on the internet, with no connection to the family, have labelled them ‘scammers’ and ‘disgraceful’ among other things, saying things to the tune of: “these people are tenants – not home owners” in a bid to boycott the fundraiser.
Father of two, Adrian, has spoken out against the incessant trolling, heeding people to think of the real-world consequences before they speak.
“It may not have been our house, but it was our home,” he said.
“My mother-in-law just wanted to do something that would help us… I didn’t think our house burning down would cause such uproar.
“Usually communities come together when tragedies happen, but instead we had people gawking and taking photos while our house burnt down, and saying many untrue and unwarranted things online.
“We just lost our home and my son turns six next week; it just feels like a bit of a ‘kicked while you’re down’ scenario.”
“No-one cares anymore, there’s no community. We live in an internet society where keyboard warriors dish out abuse without thinking of the consequences,” close friend Ashley added.
Adrian urged people to take the time to consider what they publish online and to fact-check what they see on Facebook.
“Some people take Facebook as the bible, but you have to check the facts; ask someone, send the person a message – do what you can before you cause irreparable damage.
“We didn’t ask for the GoFundMe and we’re not used to being the ones asking for help. We’re still in disbelief that this has happened.
“What you say on Facebook is not nothing to the people it affects; this is a story that needs to be told.”
For those interested in donating, the fundraiser can be found by searching Deb Graham on www.gofundme.com