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Support pours in for fire victims

Katelyn Gagnon and her family will spend the holidays in a one bedroom loft after their Stave Falls home on Bell Street was destroyed by fire last Wednesday.

It will be cozy with her common law husband, Ryan, and their two boys, ages two and six, but the young mom is happy to have a space of her own while they try to piece together what they have and decide their next steps.

"We'll start looking for a permanent place after the holidays," said Gagnon, who is grateful that her friend has offered the space, located in the same neighbourhood their home was in.

Two-year-old Hunter didn't like staying at the hotel at all, Gagnon added. "He loved his home. Everyone is stressed out — there's a lot of stuff to do, but we're managing."

The family is very lucky they escaped the fire uninjured, said fire investigator Capt. Mike Schmidt. "It was a very dangerous fire."

The fire started in the northeast corner of the garage where it spread to the sun deck and the roof of the house, according to Schmidt. The fire alarms were only activated around 4 a.m. as the family was escaping because the smoke above the detectors.

The fire is not suspicious at all, said Schmidt, but the cause is undetermined because of the amount of destruction that occurred.

"The fire was active for some time before the residents saw it," he explained.

The house will have to be replaced. Schmidt estimates the fire caused more than $300,000 in damage the house, not including contents.

The family who had been renting the house for more than three years did not have insurance to cover their losses.

Family, friends and even strangers have all offered to help Gagnon and her family. Hunter, who loves soft, stuffed toys, has received so many since he fire, Gagnon jokes they will have to find a house with a room just for his stuffies.

"Thanks to everyone who's helped so far."

Mission Towing on Wren Street is collecting donations and gift cards for the family. An account has also been set up at TD Bank to collect financial contributions for the family. The account number is 6266109.

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