Covering the Goulburn and Murray valleys

Echuca fire victim thanks community

Echuca clinical psychologist Ingrid Hilton has thanked the community for its support after the fire which gutted the building which housed Countrywide Psychology and Counselling Services.

RHIANNON HORRELL July 14, 2014 3:49am

Ingrid Hilton.

Echuca clinical psychologist Ingrid Hilton was lost for words on Friday when she tried to describe her gratitude to the community following a devastating fire.

Ms Hilton, along with colleagues at Countrywide Psychology and Counselling Services on Hare St, was going about her business as usual on July 3 when the lights went out.

‘‘They were on at the other end (of the building) and I assumed it might be a blown fuse,’’ she said.

‘‘The fuse box looked okay, but we made a decision to call an electrician.’’

She said then all the lights went out and her computer turned off.

‘‘I was just finishing some case notes.’’

Ms Hilton then discovered the ducted heating vent on fire.

‘‘I yelled, ‘Fire. Everybody out’. Within a minute the whole ceiling was ablaze and within three to four minutes the whole building was engulfed.’’

Ms Hilton believed the fire spread quickly due to the building’s ducted heating system.

‘‘There were five consulting rooms occupied by psychologists (when the fire broke out). I’m grateful everyone is safe.’’

She said she was sad to see the building lost because it provided ‘‘a welcoming environment for clients, who were often in a distressed state when they came in’’.

Ms Hilton wanted to extend her thanks to firefighters, strangers and neighbours who all came to her aid.

‘‘A lot of people brought us coffee, a lot of people came to our assistance and a neighbour even allowed us to use her lounge room for a debrief.’’

‘‘I’m so grateful to this wonderful community.

‘‘There’s been offers of support from strangers as well as people we know.

‘‘If I could, I’d take everyone on an overseas holiday to say thankyou.

‘‘There’s too many people to thank.’’

Ms Hilton thanked office manager Helen Ozdilek and administration assistant Elaine Tuohey, who she said had worked tirelessly since the fire to get the business back on track.

‘‘Ron Florence, our builder and friend, has also gone above and beyond.’’

She said any possessions not destroyed in the fire were destroyed by smoke and water damage.

‘‘Our clients can be assured that any confidential material has been destroyed.’’

Ms Hilton said the next step was to find a more permanent new premises.

Countrywide Psychology and Counselling Services is operating from 24 Percy St, Echuca, for the time. Phone 54800622.

Rhiannon Horrell

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