STAWELL's Melissa Milosevic believes she is the "luckiest girl in Stawell" despite her family home being destroyed by fire last month.
The Milosevic's were caught off guard by the fire, and found themselves standing in the street - barefoot and in their pyjamas.
Mrs Milosevic said her neighbours were "so kind" to her and her family on the night.
"We had neighbours bring us clothes, jackets and shoes," she said.
"One neighbour got a blanket for my son and took him back to their place. It was a little surreal standing there.
"I was in shock and sick to the guts. The next day I went in and saw some things that really meant a lot to me had survived. I dusted myself off and thought, 'Right. I can get through this'."
Mrs Milosevic said despite the house being destroyed she was able to salvage the things that meant the most to her.
"Items like furniture and bedding and even the house can be replaced," she said.
"I was so lucky. When we went back into the house to clean it up I found my wedding dress and veil, my daughter's deb dress, a diamond necklace, passports and our box of photos and negatives were all untouched.
"My wedding bands and my grandmother's ring was found in among the rubble.
"My wedding video and videos of my kids growing up including an ultrasound of my twin babies were all on a cd which I found, and saved.
"In a cupboard that was right next to the fire had some of my kids' clothes from when they were a newborn and they survived.
"I just couldn't believe it. Anything that really meant anything to me didn't get burnt.
"Of course I've lost a lot of stuff. But it's mostly things that can be replaced."
Mrs Milosevic's house is known to young children in Stawell as the Halloween house.
For about eight years, Mrs Milosevic has spent weeks preparing for up to 300 children to come through her doors on the night of Halloween to do some trick or treating.
"All of my Halloween stuff survived the fire," she said.
"It was all under the house.
"I just couldn't believe it."
Mrs Milosevic said despite the house fire, she probably wouldn't have hosted Halloween celebrations this year due to coronavirus restrictions.
"It would have really limited the number of people who come through the doors and that's not what our event is really about any more," she said.
FLASHBACK TO PAST HALLOWEENS:
"It's about everyone being welcome and I wouldn't want to turn anyone away.
"I could have done it from the rental property but I think it's probably best to leave it this year and help keep our community safe from the virus."
Mrs Milosevic said she was in the process of rebuilding her house on the block.
"It has to be the same house but we will change some colours or features but mostly it has to be the same," she said.
"It was lovely the number of people who reached out to help and I'm grateful to each person who got in touch and also the emergency services on the night.
"I'm not going to shed one tear about what happened. I'm the luckiest girl in Stawell that the precious things that I hold dear survived and my family are all ok."
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