DISTRAUGHT paramedic Suzette Dakin has described the helpless feeling of watching her home burn to the ground while hearing the heartwrenching cries of the family cat locked inside.
The single mother had taken her 11-year-old son Cole to school on Friday morning. When she arrived home 30 minutes later smoke was billowing out of the roof of her Black Mountain home.
"I could hear the cat calling out, but I couldn't get to him," Ms Dakin said.
"I tried to get to the house to unlock the doors. I couldn't get close enough, it was just too hot. The cat and the fish were inside."
She said there had been no warning.
"There was no smoke when I left the house, there was nothing to suggest anything was happening.
"It was just so fast."
Ms Dakin said fire investigators were still looking for the cause of the devastating blaze.
"They're not sure what it was. It may have been the solar panels, but they are still investigating."
Thankfully, the family dog was not inside and the cows and other farm animals which ran away from the 4ha property have since returned.
But the family found the remains of one of their three cats when sifting through the wreckage on Sunday.
"We buried her on the property," Ms Dakin said.
Another cat, Parker, suffered extensive burns and is fighting for its life at Cooroora Veterinary Surgery.
"A policeman found him in the paddock after the fire," Ms Dakin said.
"I saw him earlier today and he is so burnt. His face, his feet, his legs...
"He knew me, he knew my voice.
"We didn't think he would make it, but he is still fighting."
A third cat, Mia, escaped from the fire with only her hair singed.
Ms Dakin and Cole have lost virtually everything in the fire.
"I left home with my thongs and the clothes on my back," Ms Dakin said.
She doesn't even have her spectacles.
"Everything is gone, it doesn't seem real," Ms Dakin said.
"I wouldn't wish this on anybody.''
While the home was insured, it will be almost impossible for Ms Dakin to recover the lost photographs and collections she spent a lifetime gathering.
Friends have started a fundraising account to support the Dakins.
It is at Suzette's Burnt Home Fund, BSB 633000, Account Number 155444086, and the account is with the Bendigo Bank.
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