The Goodwins huddled barefoot on the side of the road, watching hell engulf the top floor of their Wynnum home.
They only had clothes on their backs and two pairs of shoes between them.
No one has been hurt “by the grace of God,” said Belinda Goodwin, mother of nine.
Ms Goodwin recalled that it was 2.15pm on a calm September afternoon on Brisbane Bay.
The family home overlooked the shore on the picturesque Waterloo Esplanade.
It was undergoing renovations and was about two weeks from completion.
Eight of Goodwin’s nine children and mom, Belinda, were at home enjoying a day without students.
Mrs. Goodwin was sleeping upstairs in her bedroom and in the next room four children were happily watching a movie.
Unbeknownst to them, inside the wall separating their two rooms was a fire.
It had been brewing for two hours.
The kids noticed “there was a bit of a glow in the toy box against the wall,” Ms. Goodwin said.
The children “moved the toy box and there was a fire coming out of the wall.”
They ran to mom, woke her up and she came back.
“I saw the wall was covered with blisters,” she said.
She grabbed the children and ran down the stairs, shouting for the others.
One of the older boys was in the basement praying the Rosary when he came up to use the bathroom and heard the commotion.
“I took the kids across the road and by the time I looked back the whole floor was gone,” she said.
Within minutes, fire had escaped from the wall and the top floor was “a ball of fire”.
The eldest son as well as the father, David, were both at work.
Mr. Goodwin was in town for a meeting when he received a call on his cell phone; it was his daughter – the house was on fire.
“Make sure the kids are out, count them again,” he told her. He called her back half a dozen times and asked her to count them again.
He called his son and told him to come home and count them.
Mr Goodwin parked two blocks from his house and hiked due to fire engine congestion and traffic jams.
“You walk down the street and on one side is the house, the house is on fire and on the other side is your family,” he said.
“In a fraction of a second you see what’s really important.”
The family lost a lot in the fire: beloved heirlooms, jewelry, clothing, books, hairbrushes, satchels, uniforms, shoes, violins, electronics, phones, credit cards.
“It was an incredibly bad day when our house burned down, but I honestly can’t say we’ve had a bad day since,” Mr. Goodwin said.
A wave of community support overwhelmed the family.
Within hours, the people of Wynnum, the Catholic community and the family had delivered a whole storefront full of useful products to the Goodwins.
“The hardest thing after that was figuring out how to say thank you and how to pay them back,” Ms. Goodwin said.
“I am very aware that when you have the opportunity to be kind, you have to be kind to people,” she said.
“This is the first time I’ve seen this really huge, overwhelming kindness… from people who have given us so much less than we have.”
When Mr. Goodwin got a chance to see what was left after the fire, he saw that the house had been gutted.
The living room and the kitchen on the ground floor were covered with ashes.
Anything that was not touched by the fire was damaged by water from the fire hoses.
Upstairs it was worse.
There was only about three square meters of floor on the top floor, the rest was just beams piled up half a yard of charcoal.
Mr. Goodwin placed a ladder against one of the beams and climbed up to take a look at the top floor.
Right in front of him was his wedding ring.
He said it gave him hope when he found out about this.
“The other two things we found were our baptismal cups,” he said.
“Of the whole floor, that’s all that’s left, a wedding ring and two baptismal cups – I guess that’s pretty sacramental.”
In three weeks, the family was able to find a rental for nine children.
The community helped them with sofas, refrigerators, the local ballet school retooled all the ballet uniforms, the school took care of the uniforms and lunch boxes, books and bags, and the teacher took care of. music arranged all violins for aspiring musicians.
Ms Goodwin said the children had held up well since the fire.
“The little kids didn’t ask for anything at all,” she said.
“I think I’m probably the most upset.
“I get more emotional because I tend to think that if this happened or what about it.
“Little things come up and you get upset. “
Ms Goodwin said she noticed the fire changed the way children took their faith.
It was the extra hour of worship or mass, the extra time for prayer, she said.
“If it turns out that one of our children is better at life, keeping their faith as a result of this, then we would do it again tomorrow,” Mr. Goodwin said.
The Goodwins have a Christmas tree and will be spending Christmas in Toowoomba with Mr. Goodwin’s family side.
Mr. Goodwin said that it was important to remember during the nativity: “God did not come into a rich family, he entered into a very poor family.”
“And all along the way Joseph and Mary were provided; they had to constantly demonstrate faith and that’s what I think Catholics should do, ”he said.
“I think we have to lose a lot of our attributes and our materialism.
“When you go through one of these (life events) it’s a really quick and fresh reminder of what really matters.
“And God provides, He really does. “