Petrolia family preparing for Christmas after community gives them a boost after fire


Petrolia Councilor Joel Field and his daughter, Hanna, look over some of the items donated to the Blevins family after their Eureka Street home caught fire Dec. 7.


Every time Brian Blevins picks up the phone, it is someone else who wants to help.

The Petrolia man and his family were left homeless after fire heavily damaged their Eureka Street home Dec. 7. The family, which includes four children under the age of seven, got a call from the OPP that their house was in flames while they watched the Santa Claus parade.

The Blevins went to live in Sarnia with friends from Temple Baptist Church that night. Since word got out about their plight, offers of help and donations have been pouring in. Piles of clothing, household goods, toys and furniture came in from people in the community within a matter of days.

In Petrolia, Councilor Joel Field says there were so many donations at town hall and the Oil Heritage District Community Centre they had to be placed in storage.

Blevins and his family were in Petrolia yesterday to take a look what has been donated and he was overwhelmed.

“It was great to bring the kids to the community center and show them the love people have for us,” Blevins told The Independent.

“It was great to hear them laugh and smile and just be kids for a while not to worry about anything else and just to have fun. That was a true blessing.”

The family has found a house in Sarnia which they can rent on a monthly basis until they figure out whether their Eureka Street home can be rebuilt. So far insurance adjusters are still assessing the damage. Blevins hasn’t been back into the building except for one brief look on the day of the fire.

“What I could see…in a lot of areas it was right back to the studs where we had started from,” says Blevins, who currently is unable to work at his job at Entropex because of a knee injury. The family had put four years of hard work into renovating the home. “It was heartbreaking that way. I hope to get out there to see it in the day to see what damage is inside – I think.”

In the meantime, Blevins is thinking about getting settled in Sarnia. Capes Movers will move the donations from Petrolia to the new house in Sarnia free. Blevins is looking forward to going through the items people have been so generous with to see what his family can use.

“There is so much stuff from just Petrolia, there is so much stuff here in Sarnia and in Petrolia we won’t know what we have until we pick it up and put it in the new house,” he says. “When we went to the community centre we didn’t have time to go through it all, whatever we can’t use we will, and the rest we will pay it forward to the next people who can use it which is a great thing to do.”

Blevins says it is the least his family can do considering they have been so blessed by the community. “Everyone has been so great, every time I answer my phone, it’s someone else that wants to help us out.

“Everyone has been so amazing to us it has been such a blessing…it’s mind-blowing but very encouraging.

“It shows that communities still stand together.”

Donations are still being accepted at Scotiabank in the Blevins Family Fund Account number 80952 01747 18.