Pulling to­gether

Ef­forts on­go­ing to as­sist Har­bour Grace fam­ily dis­placed by fire


It’s a Thurs­day af­ter­noon and Brenda Crane is at the laun­dro­mat in Har­bour Grace, fresh­en­ing up the fam­ily’s cloth­ing.

It’s her way of staying busy and keep­ing her mind off the hard­ship that has be­fallen her fam­ily.

“ You just got to keep go­ing, re­gard­less of how hard it is some­times,” Brenda says.

The Crane fam­ily — Brenda and her hus­band Daniel and their two teenaged daugh­ters, Vanessa and Cait­lyn — was dis­placed from their River­head, Har­bour Grace home by a fire on Feb. 12. They have two other adult sons — Steven and Adam — who were not liv­ing home at the time.

They man­aged to re­trieve just a few per­sonal items, and could only watch as th e f ire p ractical ly de­stroyed their home.

They did not have homeowner’s in­surance, and were do­ing up­grades in or­der to meet the cri­te­ria re­quired by the in­surance com­pany, Brenda ex­plained.

Brenda noted “it’s been one thing af­ter an­other lately,” but stated her spirit is be­ing up­lifted by what she calls an over­whelm­ing pub­lic re­sponse to the fam­ily’s plight.

She could barely find the words when asked how she felt about the as­sis­tance.

“ There’s a lot of good peo­ple out there when you need them,” she said.

Har­bour Grace Mayor Don Coombs is chair­ing an eight-mem­ber com­mit­tee set up to over­see a spe­cial fund to help the fam­ily re­build a home on their Harvey Street prop­erty.

By late last week, Coombs said the re­sponse from in­di­vid­u­als, or­ga­ni­za­tions and busi­nesses was fan­tas­tic.

He could not pro­vide an up­date on the amount of money con­trib­uted, but listed a string of ex­am­ples of com­pa­nies and in­di­vid­u­als do­nat­ing equip­ment, labour, build­ing sup­plies, tools and fur­ni­ture and cloth­ing.

“ It ’ s com­ing from all over,” Coombs stated.

He said the goal is to raise enough money and in-kind con­tri­bu­tions to con­struct a new home for the fam­ily, at a frac­tion of the nor­mal cost.

His goal is to see con­struc­tion be­gin this spring.

He said the com­mit­tee will hold a strat­egy meet­ing on Wed­nes­day, and will up­date the Crane fam­ily at that time.

“ They’ ll be kept in the loop at ev­ery step of the way,” said Coombs.

Coombs said a se­ries of ad­di­tional fundrais­ers are be­ing planned, and any­one want­ing to do­nate can do so at any Sco­tia­bank branch, where the “ Crane fam­ily fire fund” has been es­tab­lished.

A fundraiser at the Har­bour Breeze in Har­bour Grace on Feb. 18, which was or­ga­nized by lo­cal res­i­dent Pauline Yet­man, raised just un­der $3,900.

And stu­dents and staff at Car­bon­ear Col­le­giate col­lected some $2,000.

“It shows the spirit, kind­ness and com­pas­sion of peo­ple in this area,” said Car­bon­ear Col­le­giate prin­ci­pal Ed­die Rus­sell.

The out­pour­ing of sup­port is some­times hard for Brenda Crane to com­pre­hend.

“ This is far and be­yond what I ever ex­pected,” she said. “ I’ve got calls from peo­ple I haven’t heard from in years, from when I was in high school and nurs­ing school in St. John’s.”

The fam­ily has been staying with Brenda’s mother in Up­per Is­land Cove, but they were ex­pect­ing to move into tem­po­rary ac­com­mo­da­tions in Vic­to­ria at any day.

Brenda said she “ lives through the fire ev­ery time she falls asleep,” or drives by their prop­erty.

Es­caped in­jury

The fire orig­i­nated in the clothes dryer.

Brenda ex­plained that when she opened the dryer, she dis­cov­ered tow­els on fire. She threw flour on the fire, which ini­tially ex­tin­guished the blaze.

But it later “ went up like a bomb,” she stated.

Fire ex­perts warn against throw­ing flour on a fire, since it is very com­bustible and has been known to cre­ate a small ex­plo­sion.

Those in the home at the time were able to es­cape with­out in­jury, but two dogs were lost in the fire, and a fam­ily cat has also re­mained miss­ing.

“ It’s not easy see­ing 26 years of your life go up in flames,” Brenda noted.

Brenda was forced to re­tire from nurs­ing about a decade ago be­cause of back and shoul­der in­juries, and her hus­band works sea­son­ally.

She said it would be im­pos­si­ble to re­build on their own.

“ I fig­ured we were just fin­ished and that was it. We had put all our money into those ren­o­va­tions. But right away peo­ple stepped in, and peo­ple l ike Don Coombs and Pauline Yet­man, whom I never met be­fore, have been un­real.”

Brenda Crane has been over­whelmed by the level of sup­port shown to her fam­ily fol­low­ing a fire last month that de­stroyed their home.

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