A fire on Christmas eve destroyed a heritage cabin located outside of the fire protection zone on Sinkut Lake Road.
Linda MacDonald, who had been renting the cabin since the beginning of December, was asleep in the cabin when the fire broke out, but managed to escape unharmed.
“It was about 2 a.m. on Christmas eve…I woke up because I heard a crackling and I knew I had shut the damper down on the wood stove so I couldn’t figure out why there would be crackling,” said Macdonald.
“So I got up and walked through the living room and pushed open the door of the laundry room and I was hit with a wall of smoke,” she said.
“I started screaming “oh no no this can’t be happening” and I went back to my bedroom and looked for my clothes and shoes…I had on my lamp, one of those screw fluorescent lights…and it was too dim and took me twice as long to find my things,” she said.
The electricity panel for the cabin was located in the laundry room and so the house was shrouded in darkness minutes later.
Macdonald then left the house in her coat and dressing gown and ran to the neighbors house.
“I ran to the Ginters’ house, they are the closest neighbors…I ran up their drive screaming “help help help” and I rang the bell a bunch of times and Ken Ginter came to the door and he had just gotten home from work,” she said.
Ginter told her he had just got home from work 15 minutes before she came over and so the fire must have happened really fast because he didn’t see anything when he drove past the cabin at 1:45 a.m.
He went with Macdonald and tried to put the fire out with shovels of snow but it was too late.
Ginter, along with another neighbor Scott Klassen, managed to break the bedroom window and grab a few of Macdonald’s items including her wallet with her ID. The rest of her possessions were burnt along with the cabin.
“The worst thing I lost was the buttons off my dad’s army uniforms…and I had a collection of antique copper and brass,” said Macdonald, who is now staying at her sister’s in town while she figures out what to do next.
Macdonald is devastated by the fire as, along with the loss of her possessions, it had taken her a year to find the perfect place for her to rent. She found the place after speaking to a friend of hers, Mrs. Locke, who owned the cabin and who works in the thrift store in town…”It was quite a miracle that I found it actually…I went and looked at it right away and fell in love with it,” she said.
Investigators from the home insurance company said they could not determine what started the fire, although Macdonald suspects it was the dryer.
“The dryer had been on earlier in the evening,” she said.
She added that it was terrible to know that because it was outside the fire protection zone, there was nothing she could do about the fire.
“To find it in the initial stages and then know there’s nothing you can do but watch it go – it was pretty awful but you know the neighbors were just wonderful,” she said.
Macdonald would like to extend her sincere thanks to all the wonderful people who helped her through the difficult days after the fire.
“Firstly, my landlords, Jen and John Locke and daughter Melissa, who, in my opinion are true Christians in every sense of the word. They were more concerned with me and my well-being than for the loss of their own property.” “Ken and lynne Ginter and Jade, who took me to their home and were so gracious with their kindness and generosity. Ken tried in vain to put out the fire, scorching his face and ingesting smoke. He and Scott Klassen alternately took deep breaths and were able to recover my wallet and a few things.”
“Donna and Henry Klassen and Chris and Helen Wingham who comforted and clothed me. I would also like to thank Marlisse and Kate Morin and Mrs. Berg for the clothes! My family, Jeannette and Kenny Silver, Heather, Nathan and Jasmine, who happily took me in and bought me snuggly clothes and to the many kind people of Vanderhoof who helped in so many ways.”
“This little place was my dream come true…..life sure can be interesting,” she added.
A fund has been set up at the Integris Credit Union to help Macdonald. Anyone who would like to donate to the fund, the account number is 80211029.