Family fund set up by mayor
Harbour Grace Fire Chief Ray Verge says his department received a call about the fire at 7:20 p.m. on Feb. 12. Upon arriving at the scene of the fire on Harvey Street, Verge says the entire home was engulfed in flames. It took firefighters a number of hours to knock down the blaze.
Brenda, two of her daughters, one of their boyfriends, and Brenda’s 22-month old granddaughter were in the house when one of the daughters noticed something was awry.
“She said there was something burning,” says Brenda, who was in her living room when the daughter made the announcement from upstairs.
At first, Brenda could not smell anything. She initially thought there may have been a problem with the old stove, which had recently had some wiring replaced. Picking up a scent, she eventually discovered smoke coming from the dryer. Opening the door, she found towels in it that were on fire. Brenda threw some flour on the towels, which initially put out the flames.
“My daughter was on the back of me saying she was going to call the fire department, and before I got a chance to tell her to forget about it and say it was out, it went up like a bomb; the whole dryer.”
With that, everyone left the house, though Brenda says she remained by the dryer for a second, stunned by what was transpiring before her eyes. Fortunately, she suffered no burns, but by the time she had left the house, Brenda was almost ready to pass out because of smoke inhalation.
While grateful everyone made it out of the house alive, the family did lose its pets, including two dogs.
“I heard the dogs whining, and there was nothing I could do,” says Brenda. A cat remained missing as of last Thursday.
Aside from one of the daughters saving a laptop, camera, and purse, no belongings were salvaged from the fire, which caused the most severe damage on the left side of the house. Last week, Danny was searching the home for any keepsakes that may have survived. His sister, Madonna, was killed in a house fire in 1983.
The home, which initially belonged to Danny’s mother, had been insured for a couple of years, but Brenda says an inspector later discovered problems within it that needed to be addressed. Since then, Brenda says the family had overseen between $20,000 and $30,000 worth of renovations and was close to completing all the necessary work to insure the home.
“All that had to be done was the roof to satisfy insurance,” says Brenda.
They had also purchased several new furniture items within the last year.
A string of bad luck
Brenda suffered a back injury 10 years ago that affected her ability to work, and two years ago she accepted a retirement package. Danny Crane has been employed on the mainland, and Brenda says most recently he has been working odd jobs.
It may be a hard pill to swallow for the Cranes, but locals are already coming together to help the family out. Harbour Grace Mayor Don Coombs is chairing a committee looking after a trust fund called the Crane Family Fire Fund set up with ScotiaBank. The committee includes representatives from Harbour Grace churches and other residents of the community.
“Don Coombs has been unbelievable,” says Brenda. “He’s been there from the very beginning.”
Coombs arranged for the family to receive help from the Red Cross, and he assisted the family in locating new rental accommodations. The committee hopes to raise funds to help the Cranes build a new home. Aside from money, the committee is looking to convince local businesses to donate building materials, which will be handled by Town of Harbour Grace employee Dave Regular.
The group is now making an application for charitable status to make donations tax deductible.
Brenda says family, friends, neighbours and even strangers have already offered clothing and furniture to the family. A benefit at the Harbour Breeze Lounge in Harbour Grace was scheduled to take place last Friday.