A family living in a rural area south of Williams Lake lost their home, some pets and vehicles to a fire on Wednesday, March 3.
Jen Macdonald said she and her parents, Greg and Debbie Macdonald, were at their Knife Creek Road home when they smelled smoke at about 8 a.m.
There was a wood stove in the house and Jen and Greg each thought the smoke was coming from it.
When it started to smell like plastic melting, Greg ran outside and saw five-foot flames coming out of the dog house in front of the home.
He ran to his shop to get a water hose, but by the time he got back the fire had spread into the house.
“It was so fast,” Jen told the Tribune. “It (the home) was gone in 20 minutes. I managed to get my mom out with her little dog, Pete. I could hear the cats, but I couldn’t get to them because they were underneath the couch and dad lost his dog, Bella.”
Panicking, Jen broke her downstairs bedroom window with a fire extinguisher because her dog, Jessie, was still inside.
The smoke was a thick blue and she couldn’t see in to the room.
A neighbour showed up and immediately began helping.
“She broke the window more, said she could see Jessie’s tail, and jumped in. I cannot believe she did it, but she handed me Jessie,” Jen recalled. “Jessie wasn’t breathing but I gave her CPR and brought her back.”
Since the fire Debbie has been in the hospital. Right after the house fire she had a few mini strokes and then a more serious one.
“She cannot walk or feed herself,” Jen said, noting she and her dad are staying in a fifth-wheel trailer on the property and taking turns going into town spend time with Debbie at the hospital.
Thanking the Salvation Army for providing pet food and other items, plus neighbours who have been ‘absolutely incredible,’ Jen said Eric and Amanda Iverson who live nearby have been bringing dinner every night.
“They have five kids and have said ‘whatever we are eating, so are you,’ and have been dropping meals off between 5 and 7 p.m. We are lucky to have neighbours and friends.”
People have donated clothing, as well, she confirmed.
Before retiring Greg owned Ample Wood Construction, and was also a truck driver for a decade for 153 Mile Contracting.
When they moved there 30 years ago there was no house on the property — it had burned — so they cleaned it up and Greg built the house.
“They will never be able to afford to rebuild and it’s all they had,” Jen said. “It’s all the little things that are gone that cannot be replaced. How do you rebuild from this?”
Jen said they believe the fire started in the dog house or the outlet to it.
The Macdonalds did not have insurance because they live in a rural area and it was too expensive.
A GoFundme for the family started by Amanda Iverson has raised $2.790 to date.
“They are the kind of people that drop anything and everything that they are doing to help others,” Iverson noted on the GoFundme. “I have known this family for over 19 years. I hope we can help support them through this tragic time.”
Jen, 43, moved home three years ago after her fiancé died as she could no longer afford to live in Vancouver.