Fire at Co-op: two families left homeless
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Feb 26, 2007  |  Vote 0    0

Fire at Co-op: two families left homeless

St. Marys Journal Argus

Another fire at the Stonetown Co-operative Homes at 728 Queen St. E. has destroyed one unit, with two more receiving smoke, heat and water damage.

The emergency call was placed at 2:07 p.m. on Sunday, keeping firefighters on the scene for several hours ensuring that flames had not spread from Unit 10, where the fire started, through to the attics of other townhouses.

"Three units are sealed right off for investigation," fire chief Dennis Brownlee told the Journal Argus Monday morning.

An investigator from the Fire Marshall's Office arrived Monday morning to determine the cause of the blaze.

Brownlee added that "They (the fire marshall's office) will take over from there."

No one required medical attention but two families have lost their homes and have to make temporary living arrangements. The damaged end unit was vacant.

Howard Walpole has lived at the co-op for 15 years and says that Tim Barron of Unit 9 was home at the time of the fire but got out safely and is currently staying with friends in Stratford. Walpole says "after having a second fire there are probably people thinking that it may be unsafe in some units."

Mary Watkinson of Unit 6 says "I don't know what to think. I love living here. I'm shaky still because it has happened twice. I was going to do more Christmas decorating but I'm kind of scared to do anything now."

Sue and Jim Gwynn and their three children, Kodi, 9, Cameron, 8, and Hannah, 4, of Unit 10 were not home Sunday afternoon and have now lost everything again.

Last year, on Christmas morning, a fire broke out in Unit 19 that caused severe water and smoke damage to the Gwynn's home at Unit 18.

The Gwynns temporarily moved into Unit 24 with Sue's parents, Chris and Dave Redfern, until another unit became available for them. This February, they re-located to Unit 10, which is where the fire started on Sunday afternoon.

"Twice my children have lost everything and twice the town has been there to help," says Sue Gwynn, who is also the president of the co-op. Her parents have since moved to Calgary to join their other children, and, after Sunday's fire, the Gwynns have also decided to move to Calgary.

Gwynn's siblings have purchased tickets for them to fly to Alberta and start over again. They leave St. Marys on December 14.

"Honestly, I miss my family but I'm really going to miss St. Marys. I think people would be pretty hard pressed to find a better place to live. It's a phenomenal place to be and live. This is where I grew up but if I ever have the chance again it will be at the top of my list," Gwynn says.

Sue and her family were visiting friends in town when she received a call to alert her of the news. "I don't really remember when they told me. I went very calm and quiet and I talked in a hushed tone."

A neighbour was able to get their dog out of the burning home, and when Sue arrived she was very concerned about her pet. "At that point everything was about the dog," Sue says. The pet was fine and on Monday he went to the groomers to shampoo the smell of smoke from his fur.

The Gwynns are staying with a friend until they depart and Sue says that "we need clothes for the kids but we won't need furniture or other things because we are moving,"

Anyone wishing to make a donation to the families that have lost everything in Sunday's fire at the Stonetown Co-operative can do so by calling Jackie Walpole at 284-3466.

The Gwynn family needs clothing and Tim Barron needs clothes, furniture and bedding.

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