Glenorie Fire Family: A video of a fire started by a bolt of lightning engulfing a Glenorie home stunned everyone who saw it but for the Zeaiter family, the loss of two family homes on the same property in less than an hour is something they are still coming to terms with.
Adele Zeaiter, her husband George and four children (Olivia, 25, twins Georgia and Alanna, 23, and son Nicholas 19) were living with Adele’s mum Janette while their home was being renovated when the lightning storm struck their property on Cattai Ridge Rd.
Not everyone was home that evening (September 27th) but Adele said her mother was watching television and she and her daughter Alanna were both working online when the storm began.
“We saw the lighting and the sky was white, the noise was like a bomb going off and immediately there was a blackout. It was frightening.”
She said the three of them decided to go to her sister’s house nearby because she had power while her husband stayed behind to investigate if there was any damage to the renovated home they were just three weeks away from moving back into.
“There was a bit of smoke coming from the roof and that’s all you could see.”
Adele said her husband called emergency services and was in their house trying to hose it down to prevent it spreading to her mother’s house when the ceiling started to collapse and he escaped through a window.
“That’s when we saw the flames, there was no time to get anything.” George called Adele to alert her to the situation and she returned to see the flames engulfing both homes.
“It was the most heartbreaking thing I have ever seen,” she told the Hills to Hawkesbury Community News. “I was inconsolable We went from one lightning strike to the loss of two houses in just 45 minutes . It’s nobody‘s fault. It’s like a one in 20 million chance.”
She says the community support has been humbling. She said on the night, neighbours appeared from everywhere with hoses to help and one neighbour took the family dog.
“We lost everything but we are so grateful we got out. My children are grieving, we all feel very empty and sad. It’s the things we lost that we can never replace, the photos of the children growing up, my dad’s wedding ring, his diary. It was such a happy place. My mother has four children, 12 grandchildren and a great grandchild. We have so many joyous memories.”
She said while they wait for the insurance process to go through they have been very humbled by the support of friends, community and strangers. The boxes of fruit and food that have been dropped off and the clothes and shoes. She said a group of teenage girls dropped off a voucher for $1,000 for her girls to buy new clothes with.
“I am still trying to process it all while we decide what happens next but we are so grateful that when we reached rock bottom, the community held us up. Amid the sadness there have been a lot of beautiful moments.”
Her niece Larissa has started a Go Fund me page to help the family pull together the basics. https://www.gofundme.com/f/the-zeaiter-family So far it has raised over $38,000.