FORT RUPERT – After a recent housefire left a family with no home or possessions, a community responded.
When Paula and Thomas Wilson’s house burned down in March, Paula’s sister contacted UsedEverywhere.com, a free, online market where private and commercial vendors can sell used items. As part of their “Community Angel” program, the staff searched the “Free” section of its classified ads to find replacement possessions for the Wilsons.
“We get in touch with families in need and help them out,” said Erin Richards, the marketing coordinator of UsedEverywhere.com. “This is the first time we’ve done something to this scale.”
A truck was filled with basic furnishings, including kitchen supplies, couches, and appliances. With help from GDM Enterprises, it was driven up-Island and delivered to the Wilsons’ new home in Fort Rupert. Last week it was all unloaded in front of a TV news crew.
“It’s a feel-good afternoon,” said Richards after all the furniture was unloaded.
Afterwards, Paula and her daughter, Selina, visited the shell of their old house and picked through the wreckage. “It’s all coming along slowly,” said Paula.
The family is still attending counselling.
“I’ve been having trouble sleeping,” Paula said. “We’re all dealing with this in different ways.”
She described being awakened in the middle of the night by a bang. From the window, she saw an orange glow and what looked like snow falling from the sky. Moments later, her door burst open, and the hallway was engulfed in flames.
There were five occupants in the house on the night of the fire: Paula, Thomas, their daughter and son, and their daughter’s boyfriend. All occupants managed to escape, but their dog was lost in the fire. Wilson says this is still the hardest part to think of.
The family stayed in a hotel for two weeks before they started renting their current residence. They want to start rebuilding the old house, though. “It will be like awakening from the ashes,” said Paula. She hopes they can figure out why the fire started before they tear down. The house had been newly renovated, and difficulties with the heating system may have contributed to the fire.
“We’re feeling really blessed,” she said of the help the family has received. “We’ve made it through the first part of feeling like we’re living again.”