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Fire displaces large family from its home

GoFundMe page started to help, especially for the children to get the essentials they need
Large family has been displaced from their home on Tussie Road in Westholme. (Photo by Dora Edwards)

Before the floods, a devastating fire displaced a large family from its home on Tussie Road between Crofton and Chemainus.

Fire ripped through the top floor of a home owned by Dora and Joanna Edwards, who each have six kids and are also looking after their younger sister’s five children.

“Everyone got out OK,” said Ieashia James, who has started a GoFundMe page for the family. The fund has raised $1,670 as of Thursday afternoon.

Crews from the Crofton and Chemainus departments managed to extinguish burning contents within a room at the residence just after 5:30 p.m. last Friday.

Crofton and Chemainus crews were then dispatched again around 1:15 a.m. to a fire at the same residence that was fully involved when they arrived.

“Incident commanders on scene called for a second alarm for additional resources from Maple Bay and South End halls,” noted Martin Drakeley, North Cowichan Fire Department chief. “That investigation was handed over to the RCMP as it is on federal lands and we cannot comment further.”

“Most of the top floor caught fire,” said James. “It’s pretty bad.”

She added it’s not known what caused the fire.

Even though the entire family escaped unharmed, they might have been forced to flee their home Sunday night or Monday morning, as flood waters engulfed the area.

“We are very grateful that everyone made it out safely, now I would like to get together a little bit for their essential needs for the days to come,” noted James. “This family has always been a very close family, they’ve always been side-by-side.”

The family initially went to the Frank Jameson Community Centre in Ladysmith and then was housed at the Best Western Plus Chemainus Inn for one night. They have since been relocated to small apartments above the Salish Sea Market in Chemainus.

“They’re not sure how long they’re able to stay there,” said James.

She knows the family well, as her partner Charlie Edwards is from the Tussie Road area as well. He’s also a cousin to Dora and Joanna and “they’re like his sisters,” James noted.

“From what I gathered from the girls, they were kind of in disbelief and shock. You could see the worry on their faces. They didn’t want to be separated.”

James started out doing a deck of cards draw to raise money, but then went to the GoFundMe and it’s just started to gain momentum to help the family.

“The GoFundMe is the best route because I just kept sharing everywhere,” she added.

People can help by going to the GoFundMe page or messaging James under Rha-anne Sylvester on Facebook. Tim Joseph Sr. is also accepting clothing donations for the family at 447 Jubilee St. in Duncan.

“It’s all for the family and the kids especially,” said James. “Not being home will be a big adjustment for them. We want people to know how appreciative we were that people were still donating even though the floods were still going on.”

Fire rips through the top floor of a family home on Tussie Road early last Friday morning. (Photo submitted)
Joanna Edwards. (Photo submitted)
Dora Edwards. (Photo submitted)

Don Bodger

About the Author: Don Bodger

I've been a part of the newspaper industry since 1980 when I began on a part-time basis covering sports for the Ladysmith-Chemainus Chronicle.
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