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Ashes saved in fire

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Ben and Sherri-leigh Land with the ashes of their stillborn daughter, Emerikus that were saved in the fire that destroyed their home. Photo – Jessica Howard
Ben and Sherri-leigh Land with the ashes of their stillborn daughter, Emerikus that were saved in the fire that destroyed their home. Photo – Jessica Howard

By Jessica Howard

An 18-year-old Darley resident has jumped into a raging house fire to save the ashes of his late little sister.

Nicholas Land kicked in the window of his parent’s bedroom and jumped inside before blindly making his way through the thick smoke in order to retrieve the urn belonging to his sister Emerikus, who was stillborn five-years-ago.

His mother, Sherri-leigh said while it was devastating to lose everything in the fire, which ripped through their home on Sunday January 21, it was a relief to still have their little girl.

“My husband [Ben] and I were at Pykes Creek with the kids when we got the call that our house was on fire,” she said.

“A local rang me and said, it’s really bad, your roof and everything has fallen in, so I yelled out to Ben and we rushed back to the car. We came straight into town and as soon as we got to Pentland Hills, we saw the smoke and it was so black and so thick and I said to Ben, this is not good”.

Sherri-leigh said as soon as they turned the corner they saw dozens of emergency workers and people crowded around the house, which had smoke billowing from the windows and a caved in roof.

“I thought to myself, it’s gone; our house and everything we own is gone,” Sherri-leigh said.

“Nicholas was at a friend’s house at the time and we saw him running towards the house and straight up to one of the firemen to tell him that his little sister was in there and he had to get her out.

“There was so much going on, the fire was so heavy at this point and the fire brigade was so busy trying to contain the fire. They told Nicholas he couldn’t go into the house, but he did what he needed to do, he kicked in the window, jumped in and grabbed her out”.

Sherri-leigh said as her son jumped inside, the roof above the bedroom started falling in and Nichols burnt the bottom of his foot.

“When he jumped in, he put his shirt up over his face because the smoke was just so thick; he closed his eyes and followed the bed up to the bedside table, where the [urn] was.

“He endangered his life, but we are a very close family. It is devastating that we have lost our own home, but after already losing our little girl once, if we lost her to a house fire it would have just been another blow that would have destroyed our family all over again”.

Following the fire, the Land family spent the night at a hotel in Caroline Springs. Sherri-leigh said they didn’t even have soap, or a toothbrush.

“We didn’t get back to the hotel until about midnight, but when everything had calmed down, we suddenly realised that the community had already donated all of this stuff,” she said.

“Clothes, shoes, toiletries, toys, a pram, a cot – everything. We have six kids and people must have known that we are a large family with little ones, as well as the older ones, and they have just thought about absolutely everything that we might have needed.

“It is amazing and so overwhelming. We have only lived here for two-and-a-half-years and we don’t know a lot of people here, so for them to have done what they have has really blown us away”.

Bacchus Marsh Fire Brigade were contacted for comment but had not replied at the time of print.