‘Everything. It destroyed everything’: Family speaks out

Zoe Warren, Tyrion, 8 months, Amberrose, 3, and Steve Rowe. Picture: Lachlan Bence
Zoe Warren, Tyrion, 8 months, Amberrose, 3, and Steve Rowe. Picture: Lachlan Bence

A young Ballarat family has lost everything just months before their new baby is due following a devastating house fire.

Steve Rowe and Zoe Warren, who have two children and a third on the way, were at a doctor’s appointment when they received a phone call saying their Sebastopol home had been gutted on Monday afternoon.

Panicking, they drove back to Jones Drive, turning the corner to find police cars and fire trucks surrounding their house.

“The whole street was closed off with emergency services,” Mr Rowe said 

“I still can’t explain it, it’s unlike anything I’ve ever felt. Our whole life was in that house.

“All our baby’s clothes, sentimental items, all of our photos – everything. It destroyed everything.”

The property, which is public housing, has now been fenced off due to safety reasons.

Police were called in following the fire and guarded the house until an arson chemist arrived on Tuesday morning, scouring the property for clues.

However, officers could not say if the fire was suspicious as an investigation was ongoing.

The family’s two pets, a lizard and a scorpion, perished in the blaze, dealing another cruel blow.

“They were part of the family, we’d had them for years,” Ms Warren said.

“That was they first thing I asked police, if my pets were in the fire.”

The couple and their children are now staying in emergency accommodation at a motel but their future remains uncertain.

They had only moved into the Jones Drive address on Christmas Eve after living in Western Australia.

Ms Warren has family in Ballarat and they moved to the city so Mr Rowe could start studying to be a motor mechanic.

“Ballarat is a beautiful place to live, we’re hoping to find another place soon” Mr Rowe said.

The community has rallied around them and set up a GoFundMe online page to help the family rebuild their lives as they look for a new home.