It took just minutes late afternoon on Friday, Dec. 4 from the initial signs of smoke to a full-fledged home fire that left a family of 14 on the Ermineskin Reserve without a place to stay.
While luckily no one was hurt in the incident except for some smoke inhalation, the fire took all their earthly possessions and their home, says family spokesperson Tara Cutarm.
Initial investigations point to a furnace that appears to have seized but Cutarm says they won’t know for certain until Nations Liaison to the Fire Commissioner, Tom Littlechild, concludes investigations.
It was a normal Friday for many of the family members who had just returned from school and were going about their routines when smoke started coming out of the vents. Cutarm said they made a quick investigation and found it to be coming from the basement.
Immediately everyone was sent to a neighbour’s home and one member called the fire department while the oldest family member checked no one else was in the home. A short time later, the fire department arrived but Cutarm said the home was fully engulfed in flames within nine minutes of noticing smoke.
She says everything they had, including Christmas presents, were destroyed in the fire and the family is staying at a hotel in Wetaskiwin for now while they sort out their matters. Fire crews were at the scene until after 9 p.m.
“They’re very shaken up. They’re quite lost right now,” says Cutarm of the family’s experience.
Community support has been strong and Cutarm says the family is overwhelmed by the support. A GoFundMe page has been created under Recovery from the fire and a Facebook information page under Maskwacis Family in Need Due to House Fire has been created should anyone wish to donate.
Anyone wishing to donate clothing can call Cutarm who says there are three teenagers, six children under 12, a baby of three-years-old and three adults. For more information call Cutarm at 780-360-5756 or visit the GoFundMe for donations.