Uncertain future after house fire

Phatts frontman Jamie Mercanti in the rubble of his home.        d448911
Phatts frontman Jamie Mercanti in the rubble of his home.        d448911

And now that he’s “intimately aware of what being displaced and losing everything feels like”, he is “driven beyond belief” to make sure a South-West bushfire benefit show, in which he is involved next month, is one of the “greatest” that Perth has ever seen.

The Slim Jim and the Phatts frontman said his family would be lucky to retrieve 15 to 20 items of furniture after the January 13 blaze at his Shepherds Bush Drive address. They could recover no clothing.

“The damage and loss is so extensive it’s very hard to get a concept of where to go next,” he said.

“When the double garage collapsed… the easterly (wind) that was driving straight up the driveway, just blew everything back into the house so the damage is just unbelievable.”

He would not know whether they would have to demolish and rebuild the home, which was insured, until a structural engineer assesses the remains this week.

Recalling the blaze, which began in the garage, Mr Mercanti described seeing a “smoke monster” forming a ring around the door that connected the inside of his home to the garage late that night.

“I couldn’t smell any smoke, there was no smoke leaking under the door, but there was like this smoke monster eating the door frame… it was vibrating… I’d never seen anything like it,” he recounted.

When he opened the door to investigate, the fire was so strong it pushed him back. He kicked the door shut.

Then the power went out.

Mr Mercanti then crawled under the thick smoke back into his house and managed to retrieve his mobile phone, one of the only essential items he managed to save.

A Department of Fire and Emergency Services spokeswoman said four fire crews took about two hours to control the fire after receiving the report about 11.30pm.

His wife and three children, aged 14, 12 and 10, were on holiday at the time.

Mr Mercanti said they encouraged their son and two daughters to view the loss as a fresh start rather than a cause for sadness.

The family’s insurance policy provided for accommodation in the aftermath of the fire.

While a DFES spokeswoman said the cause of the blaze was believed to be a fault in the motor of the garage door, Mr Mercanti said he was told there was also a chance it could have begun in a fluorescent light outlet.

The bushfire benefit he has helped to organise is being held at Gloucester Park on February 7.

For more information and tickets visit oztix.com.au.