Heartbreaking moment a top surfer’s ‘dream’ is destroyed – as the renowned board maker flees blaze which burns his home and livelihood to the ground
- Former top surfer will rebuild his life after home and livelihood destroyed by fire
- Joel Fitzgerald detailed how fire engulfed home and shaping bay within minutes
- Is now taking one day at a time as he prepares to rebuild his life from scratch
A former elite surfer says he’s lucky to be alive after flames engulfed his ‘dream’ home and it was burnt to the ground.
Joel Fitzgerald managed to grab a few precious possessions and escape after a massive blaze gutted his home near Byron Bay on the NSW far north coast on Saturday night.
An adjoining shaping bay where the renowned surfboard designer made his living was also destroyed.
The surfing community has rallied around the heartbroken father-of-one as he prepares to rebuild his life.
Fitzgerald has shared harrowing details of how the blaze quickly engulfed the property he and his young son Kainoa have called home for the last three years.
He also posted online terrifying footage of the blaze engulfing his home and the charred remains of what’s left.
A shattered Joel Fitzgerald and his young son inspect what’s left of their beloved home which burnt to the ground on Saturday night
‘The north coast dream was very much real and I was (grateful) in every way to have this little blue house,’ Fitzgerald wrote on Instagram.
‘It’s hard to say goodbye, the emotions and feelings it brings are a little too hard.
‘I don’t think I would have ever left my house on the hill, but now it’s gone.’
The main fire started in the shaping bay, possibly sparked by an electrical box fault or blown light caused by a power surge.
Within minutes, the fire became a massive inferno and spread to the nearby home.
Fitzgerald managed to save a burning board, a photo of his son and a few other belongings before the flames engulfed his property.
He tried to save the home using a garden hose before dozens of firefighters arrived, but it was too little too late.
‘I was lucky in a way not to be killed by the… 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,’ Fitzgerald recalled.
The massive inferno (pictured) started in the shaping bay before spreading to the house
Joel Fitzgerald’s gutted blue house will be demolished due to the extent of fire damage
Fitzgerald paid tribute to firefighting crews from Lennox Head, Byron Bay and Lismore who valiantly tried to save his home.
He was grateful Kainoa was staying with his mother on the night of the blaze.
He ended the harrowing post by assuring his followers that he and his son were ‘all good’ and taking one day and one breath at a time.
‘It’s a new chapter now, the end of an era and from the ashes the phoenix will fly,’ he wrote.
Fitzgerald will take some time off to spend with loved ones and begin replacing lost possessions as he prepares to start again.
Custom board orders will continue through his production base in Sydney.
Joel Fitzgerald spent three years playing football down the hall and rode bikes and scooters inside his home with son Kainoa (pictured) before the property burnt to the ground
The blaze gutted not only the former surfer’s home (pictured) but also his livelihood
An online fundraiser has already raised more than $4,000 towards helping Fitzgerald get back on his feet so he can start again.
‘Joel’s little blue house and shaping bay attached has been the place of great times for friends and family and, was, the inspirational birth place of so many of Joel’s surfboards that we love,’ his brother Kye wrote.
Fitzgerald grew up in Narrabeen on Sydney’s northern beaches and is the son of master board craftsman and Hot Buttered Surfboards founder Terry Fitzgerald. He had travelled the world as a surfing professional.
Three crews of firefighters from Lennox Head, Byron Bay and Lismore were unable to save Joel Fitzgerald’s home (pictured on Saturday night)