A Fort Saskatchewan, Alta., family of four was left homeless on Christmas Eve after fire destroyed their two-storey home Saturday evening.
Leasa Stanley was upstairs and wrapping presents in her home when she and her husband smelled “something” that was off.
Stanley’s husband ran down the stairs and found their Christmas tree on fire. He tried to dig up a fire extinguisher to douse the flames.
“Before he even had time to think, the ceiling started to catch on fire,” Stanley said.
The couple and their two sons, aged 10 and 12, made it out of the house safely before the fire spread. When they got outside, Stanley’s sons started yelling for the family dog.
The family’s Havanese dog had a litter of puppies about a week ago and Stanley went back into the house to save the family pets that were gathered in the master bedroom.
“When I got into the room I couldn’t see the puppies, it was so black,” Stanley said. She grabbed the box of pups and their mother, and ran back downstairs to safety.
Firefighters were called to the house fire shortly after 4 p.m. on Saturday. The house was engulfed in flames when crews arrived, said Bill Heesing, Fort Saskatchewan deputy fire chief. No one was hurt.
The front of the house was blackened with soot, and all of the windows were blown out. Water from the fire hoses turned to ice and covered the front lawn. It appeared that most of the roof was destroyed in the fire, and smoke continued to billow out from the house by the late evening. The area around the home smelled strongly of smoke.
The family had just moved into the house in June.
“We just finished getting it painted, the pictures were just up,” Stanley said.
Neighbours offered Stanley and her family help. One neighbour even offered to start working on rebuilding the house.
“People are bringing us clothes and offering a place to stay . . . it’s just overwhelming,” Stanley said.
While most of the home was destroyed, firefighters were able to save a special stash of presents from Santa for the two boys that were hidden in the basement. The boys were to open them on Christmas morning.
“Santa is coming,” said Stanley with a smile.