The past few weeks have been among the worst in Giuseppe Caronna’s life – but he is determined to pay back the community for its amazing support.
Mr Caronna, his wife Poupee and their children Lucinda, seven, and Kohen, five, have struggled to maintain a sense of normality since their beloved family home was destroyed by flames late last month.
The Blair Athol residents lost everything in the inferno.
“It’s all gone,” Mr Caronna said. “Jewellery, clothes, keepsakes – everything.”
“I was able to recover one and a half of my daughter’s foot molds, from when she was a baby – we lost my son’s.”
The fire started in Mr Caronna’s car, spreading to the car port and pergola.
Mr Caronna and the kids were home at the time. He ushered them to safety, but Lucinda was hit by debris and suffered a burn to her leg, which required a skin graft.
Emergency services worked to suppress the blaze as the Caronnas went to hospital.
Later than night, the fire sparked again and the whole house was destroyed.
“The biggest priority was making sure the fire didn’t spread to other homes,” Mr Caronna said. “That was the most important thing.”
The Caronna family was shocked by the level of support directed their way in the immediate aftermath of the blaze.
Within one day of their house going up in flames, a neighbour had set up a GoFundMe page to raise money for the Caronnas and a stranger from Oran Park began a clothing and donation drive.
“The Macarthur community has been amazing,” Mr Caronna said. “It still feels so bizarre, like it’s not even real.
“But the community has been so helpful to us.
“There was the GoFundMe, the clothing drive and Lucinda’s school covered her tuition fees for the year and the kids brought in donations.
“My work has been so good – they told me to just look after my family first.”
Mr Caronna said he was not a man to show his emotions, but the support from the community had left him dumbfounded.
He said he felt like a “failure” after the fire, but the support had helped lift his spirits.
“People kept saying, ‘you saved your kids’ lives’,” Mr Caronna said. “But I feel like I failed, because my daughter got injured.
“As soon as we get back on our feet, I’m going to pay this community back tenfold.”