Kathy and Jeff Nice, Halls Head locals, awoke at quarter past eleven on Sunday night to their Aztec Island Retreat home on fire.
Fast asleep, the couple first heard the security alarm sounding which alerted them to something wrong.
"When I woke up I was confused. It sounded like people running on the roof," Mr Nice said, describing the sound of the fire engulfing the ceiling and the moment he realised something was wrong.
"We came out, it was dark and we were running around a little bit dumbfounded as to what was happening.
"I came out the front door and saw there was a lot of smoke and from there I realised that the roof was on fire.
"I ran back in to grab my phone because I knew where that was. I grabbed Kath and came outside, by then the house was well and truly ablaze. We had no water pressure so we couldn't save anything ourselves.
"The firies arrived here about 20 minutes after I called, but it felt like hours. By then the house was well and truly alight, and by the time they [emergency services] got setup, the roof started collapsing," Mr Nice said.
It's a situation they never dreamed would happen to them. The couple have called the Mandurah canals home for the last 20 years, after building their first house there in 2003.
Mr Nice retired eight years ago, when the couple decided to downsize and build their Aztec Island Retreat home from new.
It was meant to be the start of a relaxing retirement, but now they are faced with the prospect of having to start again from scratch.
When asked if they would consider rebuilding, Mr Nice said it was a possibility. "We're gonna get whatever we can, then bulldoze this and start again."
A spokesperson from the Department of Fire and Emergency Services (DFES) said that the cause of the blaze is believed to be a "lithium-lined battery from an electric bike." The bike was on charge in the garage, which is where the fire started. Authorities do not have any more information on exactly what caused the blaze.
These batteries are common causes of house fires in Western Australia. The DFES website notes that fires can be caused by "overcharging, overheating, poorly manufactured batteries and impact damage to batteries."
Seventeen fire and rescue vehicles, from Mandurah and as far as Fremantle, were required to stop the flames. Mr Nice said it took emergency services approximately four hours to extinguish the fire.
After the initial blaze, the DFES spokesperson noted there had been three hot spots between 5-7am.
"These were quickly extinguished, and there is no information on what caused these," the spokesperson said.
Hot spots are common for house fires and are typically caused by hidden fires within the structure that are missed during the initial stage of battling the blaze. Mr Nice noted that the largest hot spot had been at the front of the garage.
Thankfully, no one was harmed in the blaze, however DFES has reported a total of $1.4 million in damages to house content and cars. Walking through the home, it's clear that there is very little that can be salvaged.
"There's nothing much in there," Mr Nice said, referring to the remnants of the home. "It's mostly just black charcoal."
When the fire started and the couple initially escaped, they had to leave behind all of their belongings. "All we got out was my phone, a pair of shorts and nothing else," Mr Nice said.
"I just got myself a brand new, last of the 200 series Land Cruisers which took me a year to get," Mr Nice revealed. The car was unfortunately destroyed in the blaze.
At approximately 12.00pm Monday, the home was opened up to the couple to collect and save whatever was left from the blaze. "We've mainly been able to save photos and jewelry," Mr Nice said.
After witnessing the blaze helplessly from the street and beginning the clean-up process this morning, Mr Nice said he was feeling, "pretty ordinary," and had to go through the difficult task of contacting family.
"Talking to family is the hardest, there was over 60 years of memorabilia in there [the home]. My father only died just before Christmas so we had all of his memorabilia and photos, I'm not sure what we've managed to save out of that," Mr Nice said.
"It's been a disaster. I thought 2021 was bad, this hasn't been a very good start to 2022."
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