DEVASTATED Beerwah resident Shane Evans hopes to salvage mementoes of his late wife Helen when he returns to sift through the ashes of his home today.
Mr Evans had just arrived in Ballina on Thursday morning for his first holiday "in years" when he got a call from one of the teenagers boarding at his house to say it was burning down.
"I thought he was joking," Mr Evans, 58, said.
But he soon realised the call was serious.
He decided to stay in Ballina for the night before coming back early yesterday to see what remained of his home of the past 11 years.
It brought the steel fixer to tears.
His customised 1985 Holden Drover ute, which he had driven for the past 27 years, was burned out under sheets of tin.
"All the boys used to call it the esky.
"I've blown two or three motors in it."
His tools and most of his other belongings were gone.
He said they would be recoverable through insurance but it was the keepsakes of his wife that were irreplaceable.
"I'm just worried about the photos and the rings and that."
Helen succumbed to breast cancer in Caloundra Hospital on March 29 last year.
She and Mr Evans had been married for 37 years.
"I've had a shit of year."
Mr Evans was at a friend's place last night and said he had been offered a granny flat to live in at Toorbul.
He was distraught at his loss but resilient, planning to get back into his work.
"I've lost a lot, but I'll start again."
Meanwhile his two borders, Kirk Smith and Matt Campbell, were yesterday staying with Mr Campbell's mum on a farm near Gympie.
They had been working for Mr Evans as well as renting rooms at his Strawberry Rd home.
Both men lost their possessions after escaping the fire on but their concerns yesterday were centred on their boss.
"My family have been helping out," Mr Campbell said.
"I've had a lot of people on Facebook giving me support."
Mr Smith said he wasn't worried about losing his possessions.
"We will see what comes," Mr Smith said.
"I'll be absolutely fine."
The man accused of lighting the fire, Nathan James Cormac, did not apply for bail when his matters were mentioned in Maroochydore Magistrates Court yesterday.
Cormac, 40, was remanded in custody for next mention on April 28.
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