“I don't think I would have ever left my house on the hill, but now it's gone."
The wildly beautiful middle son of seventies soul-surf icon Terry Fitzgerald has described a brush with death following an explosion at his joint near Byron Bay.
Joel Fitzgerald, forty-eight, forty-nine or thereabouts, and so brutally well-constructed the only reason any of us are with our women is because Joel didn’t get there first, describes the scene,
“The primary fire was in the shaping bay, the cause possibly an electrical box or light that had blown by a surge in power; it’s unknown. In just a few minutes, the fire turned into an inferno, and then the fire started to inflame the house. My garden hose was doing its best, but little could be done until the firetrucks arrived.
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“I went back in to save a burning board, a photo of my son and as many things as I could grab in a final run through the burning house, but at some point, I had to walk away as the fumes and smoke engulfed my beloved home. Then, finally, the fire trucks arrived from Ballina, Lismore and Lennox, and we managed to save what was left in the destruction after only what seemed like a few minutes.
“I was lucky not to be killed by the blackening of fumes, fire and exploding drums of resin acetone and surfboard material. I saved what I could in the minutes I had without getting in harm’s way. Kainoa was not there and is OK, as he was with his mum at the time. It’s a new chapter, the end of an era, and the Phoenix will fly from the ashes.
“I want to thank those who have supported Kainoa and me, and we are doing great, one day, one breath at a time.”
Joel says the house held enormous sentimental value.
“The home where I fathered my son Kainoa from 1 to 4, where we played football down the halls and rode bikes and scooters inside the house, the Nth Coast dream was very much real. I was grateful in so many ways to have this little blue house with beautiful doors, green walls, a shaping bay, and a shed, helping inspire me to shape and design my surfboards.
“It’s hard to say goodbye. The emotions and feelings it brings are a little too hard. I would say it was time to move on. Regeneration will take on, like a seed that needs the right temperature to germinate, waiting for the ground to break or fire to come. I don’t think I would have ever left my house on the hill, but now it’s gone.
“The house will be demolished soon as it is condemned. But thankfully, it is a part of the Ballina development plan for new buildings, schools, and roads and will be built into a beautiful place once again.”