A family of five escaped with the shirts on their backs in a house fire one week before Christmas.
Dawn-Euphemia Fire Chief David Williams says around noon Sunday, the Sanderson family fled their home on Pantry School Road after hearing a smoke detector go off.
Dawn-Euphemia firefighters and a compliment from Oil Springs worked six-and-a-half hours to try to knock down the stubborn blaze. The nearest fire hydrant was several kilometres away and water had to be hauled back to the scene.
“It got into the walls and it got into the ceiling,” says Williams.
“They lost everything,” says Williams.
It’s not clear what started the blaze but Williams says the family was alerted of the problem by a smoke detector. “They heard the smoke detector going off, so we know our system and our (smoke detector public relations) program is working,” he says.
“But they got out with the shirts on their back.”
Firefighters were able to “salvage a few Christmas presents from under the tree that had not been touched” but that was about all.
The family, two adults and three teenagers, are now staying with other family. But Williams says it will take a long time for them to get back on their feet.
Firefighters were helping out. The department wasn’t able to store furniture and clothing so opted to start a fundraising drive.
They were at the fire hall in Rutherford Monday and Tuesday night accepting cash donations as well as gift cards for the family.
The Dawn-Euphemia township office will also be accepting donations in sealed envelopes.
A GoFundMe campaign has also been started. You can find it here https://www.gofundme.com/4w0govk
While the community tries to help the family get back on its feet, Williams says they may never know what caused the blaze.
Williams says it is “highly unlikely” officials from the Ontario Fire Marshal’s office will be probing the cause. “There was far too much damage to determine a cause,” he says.