Peo­ple ral­ly­ing be­hind Cana­dian Forces veteran who lost home to fire

The Pilot - - News - BY CORY HUR­LEY cory.hur­ley@thenor­wester.ca

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 wrhd1951@hot­mail.ca or by mail care of Steve at P.O. Box 172, La Scie, NL and postal code A0K 3MO.

CON­TRIB­UTED IMAGE

Pic­tured are: Stephen Bun­gay with his daugh­ter Quinn, and son Lin­coln.

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