The Christmas spirit is burning bright after a Saskatchewan community came together to help a family left homeless by a devastating fire.
Early Monday morning Marlene Fockler-Williams was in a cleaning mood, scrubbing away in the kitchen of her Christopher Lake home with her family, when she smelled something like burning wire.
So they moved the toaster, coffee maker, all of their appliances, but couldn’t find what was burning.
Only after following the smell down the hallway, which now smelled like burning wax paper, did they see the real damage.
“We saw smoke coming up like crazy between the bed and the window, and then there was the flames. The mattress was slowly getting totally engulfed.”
They fled to the car, waking some still-asleep children and grabbing what they could.
The smoke was “totally all over the house. It was fast. You didn’t have time to do anything,” Fockler-Williams said.
Their house is gone, gutted by the fire.
The family managed to save most of their pets including a cat, tarantula and three dogs, though one rabbit was lost. The rabbit was outside when the flames overtook the house, so the family is still holding out hope. “We’re kinda hoping, but he was old too,” she said.
Losing the family home so suddenly could completely ruin Christmas for some, but Fockler-Williams had a distinctly cheery tone in her voice.
“Christmas has not been ruined at all,” she said with a laugh.
If anything, the Christmas spirit is still alive and well in her family. In the short hours since the house burned down the community has already come out of the woodwork to support her and her family.
A GoFundMe page is already up, and has raised more than $1,000 in just four hours.
Victor Timm, a family friend and the owner of the Lake Country Cottage restaurant where Fockler-Williams works as a casual, has done more than open his home to the Williams’.
“We actually had been putting some money away that we were going to give to a needing family for Christmas, and we found our needing family.”
His son Dean will shelter them as they get their feet under them once more.
“The community feels like home,” Fockler-Williams said. “We’ll never leave here.
“All I’m thinking is everyone’s safe, we’re okay, we’ve got insurance. Everything’s good.”