Abby Gageler and the remains of her sewing machine.
Abby Gageler and the remains of her sewing machine.

Fashion student loses possessions

A TEXT message is how Abby Gageler found out her life had just gone up in smoke.

“I was out at Gleniffer swimming – we rushed back and even as we came up the (Braithwaite Street) hill, I could smell the smoke,” the Bellingen 19 year-old said.

“When we got there, the police, fire brigade and ambulance had already arrived and water was spraying out my bedroom window. It was horrible.”

Ms Gageler has lost everything.

In the final weeks of her TAFE Certificate Four in fashion design, her room was full of all her patterns, fabrics, cottons, bobbins, pens, not to mention her just-completed range of five pieces.

“I’d made the most beautiful dress – and it went up in flames.”

Most painfully however, her brand-new sewing machine, recently paid-off and brought home, was a melted plastic heap.

“It was my most prized possession.”

Her sister Jasmine was at home on Sunday with friends, her two children and another child when the fire broke out.

“My nephew Caleb smelled the smoke and when Jasmine opened the door the smoke poured from my room, the machine was on fire and it was spreading onto the bed. Everyone ran around grabbing what they could, including the guinea pigs, bird and the puppy. The house was completely filled with smoke.”

Living in borrowed clothes and staying with friends, Ms Gageler said TAFE had been very supportive, offering her machines and fabric to help her continue preparing for her exams. There is still however much that she needs.

“I need a bed, somewhere to put my clothes, a desk, anything to get me through my studies.”

If you are able to help, you can leave a message on 0421 408 528.

Coffs Harbour Police have said the fire was an accident, apparently caused by the flame from a faulty lighter.

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