Australian 'Mouse Plague' Causes Family to Lose Their Home in Devastating Fire

The latest tragic incident in Australia's ongoing "mouse plague" saw a family lose their home in a brutal fire, all thanks to mice that nibbled through their electrical wiring.

As News.com.au reported, the rural and regional areas of eastern Australia have been hit with an uncontrollable boom in the population of mice over the past six months—and as of late last week, Rebekah Ward and her family are their newest victims.

Ward had just returned to her home in Gwabegar, a small town in New South Wales (NSW), on Friday when she saw that the house had been overtaken by a massive blaze. Standing outside were her three sons—John, 12, Charlie, 9, and Oliver, 7—who luckily escaped from the fire unscathed. Meanwhile, their neighbor, Mark Adams, rescued the family's pets: a pug named Little Miss and a cat, Lexie.

House on Fire from Mice Plague
Police think the house caught on fire after mice chewed through its electrical wiring. Zoe Mabey/GoFundMe

While the family made it out physically unharmed, they say that all of their possessions have been destroyed. "They have lost absolutely everything. Their whole world. The boys' toys, books, the whole family's clothes, personal items, linen, toiletries, photos, nonreplaceable heirlooms, furniture, memories and the list goes on and on," wrote their close family friend, Zoe Mabey, in a GoFundMe fundraiser set up for the Wards. In four days, the fundraiser has accumulated nearly $14,000 AUD of its $50,000 goal.

According to news outlets, and a Facebook post written by Mabey, police are almost certain that the mice, who have been harassing the family for weeks, are to blame for sparking the fire. Speaking to 9Now, Ward described the mice's horrific invasion into their home as a "nightmare."

"They crawl over the kids at night," she said. "They are in our shoes, they are on our benches, they are everywhere. They eat the food. We've had to put the food into a toolbox. They come through the lounge. They will bite you on the back. They are a nightmare."

As the fire burned, witnesses reportedly saw mice fleeing the building. "The policewoman there said that she had seen mice flying out of the roof trying to get away from the flames," recounted Ward to News.com.au. According to 9Now, she added that "dead, burnt mice" were found all "around the house and into the neighbor's."

Ward told 9Now that she hasn't yet processed the loss of her home and instead is focusing on finding a rental unit for the family. "Give me next week and I will probably break," she told the news outlet.

"Hopefully we can get into a house and get the kids back to somewhat normality," she added. "I don't know how they're even coping because they have lost everything."

A number of viral videos, many showing thousands of mice swarming on farms, document the toll that the mouse plague has had on Australia, and specifically on NSW. Officials appear to have taken notice, and last week, the NSW government announced that $50 million would be put towards addressing the issue.