NATION

‘I Was Crying As The House Was Burning’

Mrs Baletalei and her husband Ropate Biutidaliconai had built their house bit by bit, extending it slowly and only put finishing touches on it last month.
05 Jan 2020 11:09
‘I Was Crying As The House Was Burning’
Leilani Baletalei with (from left), her son Pio Sake with nephews George Lala, Paulo Lala, and nieces little Faith Lala and Mere Semisi in Waila, Nausori. Behind them are the remains of their home which was destroyed by a fire on January 4, 2020. Photo: Shalveen Chand

Leilani Baletalei cried as she watched her home and everything she owned burned to the ground in Waila, Nausori, yesterday.

This is the fifth fire to destroy a home since the start of the New Year. On January 1, three house fires were recorded in Caubati, Vomo Street in Lautoka and Dilkusha in Nausori. On January 2, another fire was recorded in Nadawa.

Mrs Baletalei and her husband Ropate Biutidaliconai had built their house bit by bit, extending it slowly and only put finishing touches on it last month.

They bought the land after saving for some time and finally they had a place of their own. The corrugated iron and wooden house was built on stilts to avoid the impact of floods.

The house had 12 occupants – Ms Baletalei, her husband and their nine-year-old son Pio Sake share their home with Ms Baletalei’s two brothers, a sister and her family.

“We built the house slowly, extending it when we could. It was just finished and I had to see it get destroyed,” Ms Baletalei said.

“There is nothing left. The worse thing is that none of the children were able to save their school things. The first thing my son told me was that his school bags and newly bought books were destroyed.

“I was crying as the house was burning.”

Ms Baletalei was doing the laundry when the fire started around 11am. She said the fire had spread so fast that they couldn’t save any of their belongings.

“We are not rich people, but we were content and happy with what little we had, but now we do not have that,” she added.

“I am distraught and sad, however I know that God has a plan for all of us. I am grateful to Him that no one was hurt.”

Mr Biutidaliconai was too distraught to speak. He works as a barber in Nausori and only he knows the sacrifices he had made to give his family a home.

For now, the family is being provided shelter at a neighbour’s place, who happens to be their church preacher.

Ms Baletalei knows that they will not be able to stay there for long. She said she does not know where to go, but her biggest worry are the children, who needed to go to school in a week’s time.

“I trust in God and He will show us the way,” she said.

The National Fire Authority has raised concerns following the recent spate of home fires just four days into the New Year.

They are calling on the public to always think and act with fire safety in mind.

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Edited by Ivamere Nataro

Feedback: shalveen.chand@fijisun.com.fj



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