Jeffery Andrews said it was supposed to be a day away for him and his family, followed by a movie that night at his children’s school. However, for the Brent’s Cove family, it turned into a fiery night of terror that left his family without a house or any belongings besides the clothes on their backs, and went right into what he calls the biggest display of generosity he’s ever seen.
Andrews, his wife, Nicole, and their three children, all under the age of 10, were out of town in nearby La Scie last Wednesday evening doing some Christmas shopping.
“It was supposed to be just a family day away,” he said. “Go out, get some shopping done, go out for supper, and then we were going to the kids school to watch a movie.”
It was at the school, before the show even started, he said, he heard the news that his house back in Brent’s Cove was ablaze.
“A friend of mine was on the phone with someone back here who lives just across the harbor from me,” he said. “They told her that my house was all on fire, and she came up and told me I needed to get home right away.”
Andrews says the news of his house didn’t register with him immediately, since the shock of his friend, and the news for him was clouding his judgment somewhat.
After he gathered himself and calmed his friend down, he said his first thought went to his family.
“I knew my family was with me, so I knew everyone was OK,” he said. “So then, obviously, all I could think was that I had to get home to try and save my house.”
When the Andrews family arrived back in Brent’s Cove, they were met with a gut- wrenching scene; the house was beyond saving. Their home, which Andrews said they had just finished paying off, was nothing but charred remains. Two of the family’s pets, a cat and a dog, were also in the house at the time, and didn’t make it out of the blaze.
“It was a shock, you know, because we didn’t have a thing – not a thing besides the clothes on our backs,” he said.
The distress of the situation began to sink into the family, as they realized that they’d lost everything they had; clothes, toys, belongings, memories, and money the family had been saving for renovations – everything the Andrews had was now gone to the flames.
“We had Christmas gifts bought in for the kids, and a lot of our relatives that live in Fort McMurray and other places had a lot of gifts sent home, so now that’s all gone as well,” he explained.
Unfortunately, the Andrews didn’t have home insurance. They had been in the process of carrying out renovations, to get their house up to code to enable them to qualify for home insurance.
Then the generosity began to kick in.
“I think before the fire was even completely out, the donations started coming in,” he said with a sound of shock still in his voice. Clothes, food, and cash donations have poured in from all over the country, and they’re still coming in.
“I can’t even put into words how amazing it’s been,” he said. “The generosity of people here on the peninsula and all over, makes you realize how lucky you are to live where we live, with the people we have around us.”
Right now, the Andrews family is staying with relatives in nearby Harbour Round.
Then they got a phone call last week that changes their situation for the holidays.
“A guy from La Scie called and offered us his house, fully furnished, for however long it takes us to rebuild,” said Andrews. “To me, that’s amazing – I can’t even believe that someone would be that generous to help us out like that.”
The family hopes to rebuild sometime in the Spring, on a new piece of land they’re looking at in Brent’s Cove.
“I don’t think we’re going to rebuild on the old piece of land,” said Andrews. Over the past number of years he said that particular piece of land has a history of structure fires with two other houses, a shed and a store being burned within close proximity to each other.
For now, though, the Andrews are getting through Christmas and making the best of their situation.
“We’re together, and that’s the only thing that matters right now,” he said. “Family is the most important thing going. You can rebuild a house, and you can buy new stuff, so I’m not worrying about that right now.
“For now, we’re going to have a good Christmas, and be thankful for what we do have left.”