People rallying behind Canadian Forces veteran who lost home to fire
LA SCIE, NL — Helen Bowers of La Scie says her heart sank when she saw fire destroying Stephen Bungay’s home earlier this month.
The Canadian Forces veteran has had a hard time in recent years, according to his neighbour. Post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) turned the young man’s life upside down following three tours of duty in Afghanistan, she says.
However, the father of two was starting to do well, Bowers said. She is now concerned about the potential impact the Aug. 1 fire will have on his life.
“He struggles, but he was doing so well,” she said. “Everything seemed like it was falling in place for him. Then this happened. When I saw him, he looked so defeated. It broke my heart.
“It wasn’t the most modern home. But, it was his, and a place to bring his kids and spend time with them.”
The 22A Stakes Pond Road bungalow in the Baie Verte Peninsula town was extensively damaged and is deemed unlivable as a result. Canadian Red Cross disaster volunteers responded with emergency purchases such as clothing, food and other basics. Bungay is temporarily staying with family in Lewisporte, said Bowers.
She set up a GoFundMe campaign and has been going doorto-door through La Scie hoping the community, and people in general, would step up to help Bungay in this time of need.
“He deserves it, in my opinion,” she said. “He served three tours of duty in Afghanistan.
“He doesn’t have family here in town, only his two kids. I felt, if I didn’t do it, there was nobody here to do it. He suffers from PTSD, and my heart just ached for him that day.”
Bowers said Bungay lit a fire in his childhood home early on the chilly evening of Aug. 1 to stay warm. She says he tried to put out the fire that started in a pipe from the stove, but couldn’t contain it and it got out of control. She recalls how he was getting his important possessions out of the home, things like his uniform and medals, as fast as he could.
Thankfully, he was uninjured in the fire, she said.
“Outside it doesn’t look really bad,” she said. “But, inside … and it is an old house. He couldn’t get insurance.”
Bowers said she has been neighbours with Bungay since she returned to La Scie in 2015. She said Bungay lived in his parents’ old home to be close to his children.
“He is a really good dad,” she said.
Bowers said she has been in touch with Bungay, and his mom, since the fire. She says he is doing well, passing time with his children. His hope is to return to La Scie, according to his neighbor, but she believes the home should be torn down and rebuilt. She’s not sure if that is financially feasible for him, but is hoping she can do what she can to help make that happen.
“We are doing really well,” she said. “This is a small town, but I can tell you, it has a big heart. I think the people kind of respect him, where he is struggling with PTSD and trying to do his best to be a good dad.”
La Scie Mayor Derek Tilley wrote a message on Bungay’s behalf to help the campaign, recognizing the impact the fire has been on his life.
“This has been a terrible setback for Steve to lose his home,” the mayor wrote. “He is on a fixed income, and desperately needs our financial support at this time. Let’s get together and give back to one of our own.”
People can help by donating to the GoFundMe campaign — https:// www. gofundme. com/ stephen-bungays-house-fire — or donating through some of the peldge sheets placed throughout the area. Bowers said there are some at businesses in La Scie, where she has also been going door-to-door, as well as in nearby towns of Brent’s Cove and Harbour Round.
Bowers is also accepting donations via email firstname.lastname@example.org or by mail care of Steve at P.O. Box 172, La Scie, NL and postal code A0K 3MO.
Pictured are: Stephen Bungay with his daughter Quinn, and son Lincoln.