Last Thursday afternoon, the Dalton family lost everything. Their beautiful house of over 20 years, overlooking the sea in Maraetai, was gutted by a fire in a matter of moments.
But through the ordeal, the East Auckland community has banded together to help them.
David and Nathaniel Dalton were out and Tracy-Lee Dalton and her daughter Gabrielle had just returned from Gabrielle's cross-country practice.
As they were driving home, they saw a cloud of smoke looming. When they drove up the driveway, they were greeted by flames.
"We came home to our house on fire and I opened the back door to find a fury of flames coming from our laundry and consuming our hallway," Ms Dalton said.
"There was smoke coming out of the back door," Gabrielle added. "Mum was like, 'Look!' and there was a whole lot of smoke. There were some nice builders who were trying to get the hose going."
Ms Dalton tried to stop the fire but it was too late.
"We are on tank water so there’s no water pressure and our fuse box was alight so we were trying to fight an inferno with a dribble," she recalled.
"A gentleman told me to leave the building and told me it could not be saved and to save myself, so I left…Then I watched my home of 20 years be consumed by a raging fire that was so destructive and fast."
Eleven fire crews arrived but not until about 45 minutes later, she said.
Mr Dalton blames an electrical fault in the roof above his bedroom.
"We were very fortunate not to have been in bed at the time that it started," Mr Dalton said.
It was heartbreaking, he said, to return home from work to find firefighters "mopping up" the already destroyed home.
"My kids were very shaken up, particularly having lost our cat, which we have had for many years," he said. "They were very upset by that.
"Outwardly, they appear alright but they are still very upset about it all, particulary when they don’t have a home to go back to."
But the Maraetai and Beachlands community has banded together to help the family.
"I’m really, really humbled by the community out here Beachlands and Maraetai, the churches, the schools, our friends, many people we don’t even know," Mr Dalton said.
"We are currently staying at a house donated to us to stay at with people we have never met before who are away on holiday who said, 'Our house is empty, come and stay there'. We’ve got garages full of gear that people have donated - lounge suites and televisions and all sorts of things and bags and bags of clothes from the community who have rallied together"
Ms Dalton described the community as having been "rock solid brilliant" towards the family. She recalled walking down the street when a man took off his shoes and said, "You need them more than I do."
Gabrielle and Nathaniel have been given school uniforms that fit, clothes, running shoes and soft toys.
The family were donated food, fridges, televisions, all sorts of appliances, clothes and couches.
A Givealittle page was started for the family three days ago that has so far raised over $6000.
Given the support, the family has remained reasonably positive despite the circumstances.
"Where there is trial, there is triumph," Ms Dalton said.