Thanks after fire

The fire in West Launceston that destroyed the possessions of a family of 13 on Friday night. Picture: Mark Jesser
The fire in West Launceston that destroyed the possessions of a family of 13 on Friday night. Picture: Mark Jesser

A REFUGEE family of 13 who have been in Australia for five weeks have thanked those who helped fight the house fire that took all their possessions on Friday night.

Father Mohammad Heidari, speaking through translator Ilyas Warasi, said the family were incredibly grateful for the quick work of their neighbours and the fire service.

Fire investigators said the cause of the Brougham Street fire was accidental and estimated damage at $200,000.

Five members of the family were inside at the time, including a parent, and all escaped to safety. The family are now staying with relatives at Newstead.

Mr Heidari said the family had enjoyed living in peace and without tension since arriving five weeks ago. The Heidaris - with children ranging in age from three to 21 - arrived in Australia after fleeing their home of Afghanistan and spending more than 16 years in Iran.

"Refugees can have many, many problems ... they are really very happy here - it is much different for them," Mr Warasi said.

"Living in Australia is very difficult but very exciting."

The family will work to rebuild their lives before starting school after the term break.

Their first five weeks in the nation had been focused on settling in, Mr Warasi said.

Launceston Fire Brigade leading firefighter Charlie Watson, who investigated the fire, said the Tasmania Fire Service and TechSafe electrical inspectors had determined that the area of origin of the blaze was the ceiling in the master bedroom ensuite.

The Migrant Resource Centre manages the property, one of 10 in Launceston used for short-term accommodation for new arrivals, on behalf of Housing Tasmania.

Migrant Resource Centre chief executive John said almost 380 refugees had made Launceston their home during the past 12 months, including about 250 who had fled war-torn Afghanistan.

He said about 70 family groups made up the new arrivals.

Mr Brown said people could donate goods to the Migrant Resource Centre in Cameron Street.

Mr Heidari said the family was most in need of clothing.


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