A basement fire has left an Orillia family with nothing.
During the afternoon of June 3, Vanessa Poole was taking a nap when fire broke out inside her High Street unit.
“The alarm went off and the sound was different,” she recalls. “The whole house was on fire, and we had to get out of the house as fast as we could.”
Poole, 39, says an electric fire started in the basement of their home and their outdated electrical panel failed to shut off the power, resulting in the spread of the fire. Now, the Pooles have been living in a trailer on family property.
“Everything that didn’t get burned got smoke damage,” she said. “The heat was so bad from the basement that the stuff that was on top of the fridge in the kitchen melted.”
Everything the Pooles owned and worked for was in the house at the time of the fire. Sentimental family keepsakes and photos have been lost. Nobody was hurt physically, but Poole says emotional damage is showing from her children, who are 20, 19, 18, 17 and 15 years old, as well as a 12-week-old. She also has a granddaughter who lives in the house and is 20 months old.
“They are city kids who are used to having their friends and their life,” she said. “They are miserable. This is really hard on them.”
Poole is looking for a new apartment and says they need something large that can fit the family comfortably. They do not have the aid of insurance. They have been evicted from the home and won’t be going back once it’s rebuilt.
“Some days I cry all day,” she said. “Other days I’m too busy trying to find somewhere for a family of our size to live.”
Poole says she and her family lived in the unit for two years and have been with the same landlords for nearly 15 years.
In an effort to help the family, a GoFundMe page was created June 8. As of Thursday afternoon, more than $2,000. had been raised.
“It means everything to us,” Poole said. “My faith in humanity has been restored. I don’t even know where to begin with thanking everybody who has helped us.”
She says first and last months’ rent for a new home will cost about $3,500, which makes the donations crucial for the family.
“A lot of people have stepped up for us,” she said. “It’s been hard, after thinking we have everything we need, to be waking up one day and having nothing.”
While fighting back tears, Poole says it’s difficult having to ask people for help, but she is grateful for everyone who is willing to pitch in.