Neighbours and community members have rallied this week to support three families who lost all their possessions in a house fire Monday night.
Emergency crews were called to the scene just after 6 p.m. when the home, located at 974 Huston Street, erupted into flames following a kitchen fire in the basement suite.
“It happens fast I tell ya,” Ralph Keam told neighbours Tuesday morning as he surveyed the damage.
“It was a blessing really, if it had caught at any other time it would have been hard to get out.”
Keam and his children had rented the upstairs suite in the home for the past two years, while another young family with a toddler and an expectant mother lived in the basement. Another young couple also lived in a suite above the garage.
After taking a brief look inside, Keam said the damage was way worse than he thought.
“There’s not much left. It’s totalled,” Keam said, noting he’s relieved everyone got out OK but believes pets were lost in the fire.
Keam, who is a full-time single father of two daughters, ages 7 and 12, and a 16-year-old son, was already given the keys to another smaller rental unit by the property manager Monday night and will be looking for something more permanent in the weeks to come.
“I guess we’ll be scrambling for a while to try and find some furniture and clothing.”
Calls to help the families were pouring in to the Tribune’s office and website page Tuesday, with Jessica Chenier and Christopher Lee Hawkins dropping in to make several donations.
“We know what it feels like to lose everything and we wanted to give back,” said Chenier, who lost her own home in the Fort McMurray fire last year.
Mikaela Mears of Rock, Paper, Scissors beauty salon also started a bottle drive at Amanda Enterprises where bottle donations can be made to the “974 Huston Street fire” to be shared between all three families. She is also collecting donations at the salon, as is staff at Fit City Athletica, who are collecting food and clothing donations for the family with the toddler and expectant mom.
Keam said he left a well paying job up north to be home with his children.
“Sometimes I feel like I have to be working, I want to, but then I tell myself that being with the kids is more important. And they’re great kids. It’s a pleasure to be raising them.”
Keam said the children went to school Tuesday, and seemed to be dealing well with what happened.