All we want for Christmas . . .
By JENI FAULKNER
JOHN Ulm has lost everything he owns just three weeks before Christmas, yet he considers himself lucky.
On Wednesday the four-bedroom home he and his son Joseph, 11, share was gutted by fire and yesterday, sorting through the rubble, Mr Ulm said it was amazing how quickly everything was lost.
"All the things you own virtually become nothing after a fire, just a black mess, and everything else is completely damaged by smoke and water," Mr Ulm said.
The house in Ocean Spray Drive, Toormina, was set alight at 2.40pm on Wednesday by an electrical fault.
After a phone call to his work, Mr Ulm arrived home to see the roof collapsed and the property virtually gone.
Looking at the situation in a positive light, Mr Ulm said this was not the worst thing that could happen to a family.
"We are lucky no-one was home at the time and now we just have to keep looking towards the future. What more can you do?" he said.
Yesterday Mr Ulm discovered his coin collection, no longer of any value, and some electrical cords and plastic pools which used to be a computer and television.
He also discovered his son's school certificates and some photographs which were protected in a box but, unfortunately, everything else was unsalvageable.
"We lost 10 bonsai plants which were at the side of the house and they had been in the family for 20 years, so they can never be replaced."
Arriving in Toormina yesterday, Mr Ulm's wife, Elisabeth, who works in Sydney, said she could not believe the damage.
"We built this property eight years ago and, at the time, it was the first house in the street," Mrs Ulm said.
"When I found out about the fire I just didn't believe it, you always worry about your children when someone tells you something terrible has happened, but thankfully everyone is safe."
Mrs Ulm said it was amazing to look at the house.
"It was a big house but now it just looks so small, everything is black and there is no roof."
The Ulms spent Wednesday night with friends and yesterday they visited real estate agents who helped search for alternative accommodation.
"I just don't think it has hit us yet, we are just in shock," Mrs Ulm said.
Detectives have confirmed an electrical fault in a front bedroom caused the blaze on Wednesday. Authorities closed the cul-de-sac and evacuated some residents when it was feared an oxyacetylene bottle in the garage would explode.