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Community rallies to help families after house fire


her house.” Holmes is grateful for the way that people have responded to the plight of the young Québecois couple with donations to the Go- Fund page and more that 150 offers posted as of Sunday involving clothing and other essentials. “The community’s done nothing but help them,” he said. “We just want to let people know how grateful we are.” “It’s been overwhelming,” said Sonya Hol- mes, adding that their son, Gabriel, has also become a focus for some of the generosity with people providing board games and other items to replace all the toys and such that he lost in the fire. “I was so sad when my house burned,” said Gabriel, who asked to join the interview, “because I lost everything I had. Thank you (everybody).” The GoFundMe fundraiser page is at rence-creek. Josée Bourbonnais 613-286-9949 Service à domicile

It began as a personal disaster for two fami- lies in Clarence Creek left homeless after a house fire. But now it has become a victory for community compassion and support to help those in distress. “I’ve never felt such camaraderies,” said Chuck Holmes , “with everyone in the com- munity helping out. It’s bringing tears to my eyes.” Holmes, his wife Sonya, their 10-year- old son Gabriel Racine, and the family dog spent the past Feb. 12 weekendmoving into in their new apartment in Orléans. Their own tenants, Marco Giguère and Melissa Sparnaay, a young couple from Quebec, also spent part of the weekend settling in, along with their cats, at a new apartment unit up the street from where they used to live. It is a happier weekend than either of the two young families might have expected, after a Wednesday morning fire left them all homeless on Feb. 8. Fire crews from Clarence-Rockland sta- tions, aided by crews fromThe Nation and Ottawa, spent 10 hours at the 1721 Landry Road residence, trying to extinguish the blaze and then in the end having to settle for containing it until an excavator arrived to tear down the building. Clarence-Rockland fire chief BrianWilson reported firefighters were unable to main- tain control as the fire kept working its way

Malgré les efforts des pompiers, deux familles de Clarence Creek ont été laissées sans abri lorsque leur maison, y compris un appartement, a dû être démolie, le 8 février, pour contenir un incendie incontrôlable. Mais avec l’aide de la famille, des amis, des voisins, et même de parfaits étrangers, les deux familles ont chacune un nouvel endroit pour vivre et des dons de vêtements et d’autres articles pour aider à remplacer certains de leurs biens perdus dans l’incendie. —photo Gregg Chamberlain

through the two-storey building.The age of the building, plus the fact that it had some ongoing renovation work, made it almost impossible for crews to stay on top of every flame because of all the nooks and crannies where the fire could hide inside the walls. No one was hurt and, at one point early during the situation, firefighters rescued the cats which were still in the apartment addition to the main house. Because demolition of the house was necessary, chief Wilson said it is impossible to determine the exact cause of the fire.The matter is now in the hands of the insurance company and Holmes’ plan is to rebuild once all the paperwork is settled and things have quieted down for him and his family. “Me and my wife are fully insured,” he

said, adding the real hardship is for his te- nants, who did not have any renters insu- rance to cover their losses. But now, both the Holmes and the Gi- guère-Sparnaay families are discovering just how many friends they have, both among their neighbours and even complete stran- gers, who want to help them recover some sense of normalcy, after they lost everything they had in the fire. It beganwith family friend, Amy Lamothe, setting up a GoFundMe page to collect dona- tions for replacing some essential items lost in the fire. A Facebook page was also set up about the situation for the two families. “I posted (a request) if anybody can help my two tenants,” Holmes said. “She (Lamothe) is also collecting donations at

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