By Connie Tabbert
Cobden – A family of seven is living in a hotel following the destruction of their Cornerview Road home by a late afternoon fire on Wednesday, June 2.
Firefighters and apparatus from all five Whitewater Region Fire stations responded to the 4:45 p.m. call, said Chief Jonathan McLaren. The fire was under control by 6 p.m., with firefighters remaining a total of six hours to ensure complete extinguishment, he said.
The cause is undetermined but he said it’s believed the fire started somewhere around the wood pile, spread to the garage and then the house.
“By the time we arrived, it was fully engulfed,” he said, adding firefighters focused on protecting two large propane cylinders and smaller outbuildings near the blaze.
The fire started on the outside of the 13-year-old home, making it more difficult to contain, he said.
“It’s a combination of when a building catches fire from the outside it lacks protection as it would have inside such as drywall and compartmentalization of rooms and limited oxygen,” Chief McLaren explained. “The high wind conditions didn’t help and the vinyl siding burned quickly.”
Renfrew County Paramedic Services provided medical monitoring of firefighters throughout the incident, Chief McLaren said, adding the OPP provided traffic control and support to the homeowners until the Red Cross arrived to provide further assistance.
Chief McLaren estimates the blaze caused about $1 million in damages.
Jamie Hawes, a son of homeowners Sylvie and Brian Hawes, said there were seven people living in the home at the time – his parents, an adult son and four children.
“They got out with just the clothes on their back, and some with less than that,” he said, noting some were in the pool. “We lost everything.”
The family members are staying in a hotel “until we can figure out alternate accommodations,” Mr. Hawes said.
The Hawes moved from Ottawa to this large, two-storey home they had built 13 years ago, he said.
Along with losing their home, the Hawes also lost a garage and vehicles, including a tractor. Three cats perished in the blaze, but all other animals on the hobby farm are now located elsewhere so they can be properly cared for.
“We have super neighbours,” he said. “It’s been so overwhelming, all the help we are getting.
“Thank you isn’t enough.”
A GoFundMe Page has been set up by a family member, Fundraiser by Cheryl Hawes : Help Brian and Sylvie rebuild their home (gofundme.com)