A Gitaus family is hoping for a Christmas miracle after their home and most of their belongings were damaged in a fire that also claimed the lives of two of their pets.
The Seymour family woke up just after midnight on Saturday, Dec. 14, to find their Tsunyow Street home on fire. They made a lucky escape, but two of their pets didn’t make it out, their newly arrived kitten Lulu and their hamster, Hamlet.
Lulu was a birthday gift for the family’s daughter who celebrated her 13th birthday on Sunday.
Mom Danielle Seymour’s sister Chrystal, speaking on behalf on the family, said with ten days left until Christmas the family needed the community’s help more than ever.
She said along with the death of their two pets, the Seymours also lost most of their belongings in the fire.
“Everything is still fresh and the shock is still there. We’re just trying to stick together so we can get through this one day at a time,” Chrystal says. “They’re devastated, but they’re hanging in there.”
This is the second time the Seymour family has experienced a house fire in the last year – in April Chrystal’s other sister Leanne Woods’ house caught fire in Gitaus and most of their family’s belongings were damaged by smoke. The house had to be renovated before the family could move back in.
“This is twice now this year in my family. It’s very hard. It’s devastating right now,” she says.
Apart from dad Frank Hogue, who was treated at the scene for smoke inhalation, the rest of the family escaped without injury.
Thornhill Fire Department deputy fire chief Christopher England said the fire department responded to a call from the family at 12:30 a.m. on Sunday, Dec. 15. Three fire engines, including a ladder and duty vehicle, were sent to fight the blaze.
He said when the crews arrived they could see the windows in one of the three daughter’s bedrooms were blackened with smoke, with more smoke billowing out the top of the building.
“The family is alright. At least one of the family members was treated for smoke inhalation and two pets didn’t make it. The dogs made it, but the cat and the hamster were unfortunate victims,” England says.
While it took crews less than 15 minutes to extinguish the fire, the firemen remained at the scene for nearly two hours checking for any potential flare-ups.
“The mattress was still smouldering – those keep a lot of heat for a long time so we kept an eye on it,” says England.
He praised the family for their efforts to contain the fire, which prevented it from spreading through the rest of their home.
“The homeowner did a lot of good work before they called 911, using a fire extinguisher to dampen the fire down. They got everybody out and closed the door to the fire, which definitely helps stop the spread. If they hadn’t done that, the house would probably have been gone,” he says.
“The fire damage was contained to the fire room, but the whole upstairs definitely has a lot of smoke damage. The main floor is in good shape, but the smoke damage in the second-storey is extensive.”
England says the family is receiving assistance from Emergency Support Services, but it’s not known when they will be able to move back in.
He said while firefighters were able to save some Christmas gifts from being destroyed, their belongings were destroyed in the fire.
Community fundraiser organized
To help the family, Chrystal organized a spot draw with 100 participants raising $1,000 for the family. She said any further donations would be greatly appreciated.
E-transfers can made to firstname.lastname@example.org or anyone who wants to help can also contact Lynn Parker at email@example.com.
“We’re just going to keep trying to fundraise, fundraise, fundraise to make sure the family is good and they can live in a little bit of peace at least through the holidays,” Chrystal says.