“We will have a different life now. It will be a life after the fire,” said Gerald Caron.
Caron, from Vanderhoof, lost his home to a fire on Feb. 26. His family and children are safe and they have been temporarily welcomed by an older couple in the community.
Their home, located on 266 West Third Street, was the first major residential fire in Vanderhoof in over a year, said Fire Chief Ian Leslie.
“The cause of the fire is my own fault. It is my fault because I knew the dangers and I was planning on improving that chimney, but I delayed,” Caron said.
He didn’t have fire insurance for his house.
“The house was paid for. I don’t regret anything for the insurance part because I knew my house was not ‘to code.’ My house was my way. It was my castle. There were all sorts of things not respecting the norms. But I liked it that way,” Caron said.
The fire, he said, came from their pellet stove chimney which was running into an old gas chimney. He planned on putting a liner in. The family bought a new pellet stove earlier last year and that stove, he said, was very powerful and was throwing air too hot for the chimney.
Caron cries as he considers the fact his life has been forever changed by the fire.
“I am a person who is in-charge of my life and I make my own decisions and I made a bad one. And my family paid the cost for that,” Caron said.
He said the family has made good decisions in the past and that led to not having any loans or debts to pay off. The plan now is to take out a mortgage for a house, put in a good foundation, and then get a pre-fabricated house to start a new life.
“There will not be so much clutter and we will have a different life now. It will be life after the fire,” he said.
Caron works as an online teacher, a linguist and has political ambitions. He said monetarily they have taken a hit of $100,000 after the fire, but are not struggling to make ends meet. He said they don’t have millions in their bank account but did save money through their lives.
He started a GoFundMe page on Facebook and people in and around the community donated $5,000. However, he said he is still trying to access the money as Facebook blocked his page when Caron was unable to provide identification on time.
He said a month ago, his life was perfect. But since Jan. 15 until the fire on Feb. 26, Caron said he has had a series of unfortunate events in his work life and personal life that have affected him mentally and led to a depressive mind set.
Caron said on the day of the fire he had just stepped out of the shower and was checking his computer for a work contract in China, when the fire started.
“I realized there was fire and tried to fight it and came to the conclusion that I couldn’t fight it, so called 911. I went back into my room, grabbed the computer I was working on, left my glasses, left my wallet, left all the keys of my vehicles — left everything, being convinced that the fire hall is so close that they will just water everything.”
“I would have lost a lot but my wallet will be there, my keys will be there. When the fire people came, they took time to prepare – they need to vet things, but by now the fire was raging. My keys were all burnt now, now my glasses are gone, my wallet is gone — now everything is gone,” Caron said.
He said the community has been very supportive and he has received a lot of comforting messages from people in the District.
The family is looking for an empty garage that could be used until mid-summer to store monetarily invaluable stuff, Caron said.
“Yes we can put our stuff in a storage unit and it’s going to cost us over $200 a month. The things we want to store have no value, so if we have to put it in storage, we would rather just throw them away. An empty garage would be very helpful,” he said.