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.
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.