Devastating fire levels Heart’s Content home
The multi-purpose room at the municipal building in Heart’s Content on the morning of Jan. 9 was a much different scene than a week before.
Lorne and Shayna Piercey have been overwhelmed by the level of support they have received since a devastating fire on Jan. 5 in Heart’s Content left them, their five children and a grandparent homeless. — Photos by Nicholas Mercer/The Compass
There were bags of clothes in every corner. It looked like an entire community emptied its closets in an early attempt at spring cleaning.
The collection was the result of a heart-warming demonstration of community spirit and compassion.
Each article of clothing has been donated in aid of the Piercey family.
The family of eight — including five children — was left homeless following a devastating fire during the early morning hours of Sunday, Jan. 5, at the height of a provincewide power outage and winter snowstorm. The fire completely levelled the bungalow. Fortunately all occupants escaped without injury.
Divided into six distinct areas, a table has been set up for each of the Piercey children — Logan, Madison, Meaghan, Ashley and Taylor, ages 4 to 15 — as well as one for parents Lorne and Shayna, along with family patriarch, 75-year-old Nelson Piercey.
Sets of bags sat on each table. The name of the corresponding child was scribbled on each.
There were T-shirts, coats, jackets, jeans, sneakers and toy sets.
Many of the clothes items arrived within a 24-hour period. By Jan. 6, Shayna had gone through more than 50 bags of clothes. And, it was still coming in.
“That day was a bit overwhelming,” she said standing amid the donations. “Right away, people just started helping and giving and caring. You know people are going to help. I didn’t expect so much, so fast.”
The Pierceys have heard from all over the province and Canada about other donations; things such kitchen sets, washers, dryers and televisions have all been offered, as well as a room at Legge’s Motel and Restaurant.
“Danny Legge told us it’s free rent for as long as we need it,” said Lorne.
People have donated food to the Pierceys, providing them with meals and are constantly concerned for how the family is faring.
“The people have been so good and that eases a lot of pressure,” said Lorne.
In the aftermath, all five children have been staying together with a family friend.
Since the fire, Pat Smith and a couple of other women have been at the municipal building helping the family sort through the mountain of clothes.
“Even when we’re busy doing other things, the people are still helping and making it easier for us,” said Shayna.
There is more than enough clothes in the room for them.
The Pierceys plan to donate what they do not use to charities such as the Salvation Army.
Eleven-year-old Meaghan awoke to use the bathroom just before 2 a.m. She thought the bathroom had caught fire.
Reacting immediately, she raced to tell her father the news.
“I jumped up and grabbed a jug of water,” said Lorne.
When he got there, the room was not in flames, but he could see a bright glow through the floor. The basement had caught fire.
The house quickly filled with smoke, but everyone managed to get out, some of the children on stocking feet.
Shayna had to carry her youngest daughter as she was slept.
“It if wasn't for Meaghan, they would be planning a funeral for eight,” she said.
Fire departments from Winterton and Heart’s Content put in yeoman’s work that morning.
“They have to be commended,” said Shayna.
A provincewide power outage made fighting the blaze difficult. There was little water pressure in that area of Heart’s Content, meaning crews had to travel nearly a kilometre away to fill the trucks’ tanks from a hydrant with more pressure.
To combat hot spots, Heart’s Content Fire Chief Brian Pitcher said crews used snow.
In addition to the water shortage, Pitcher said the hoses kept freezing, adding to the difficulties facing the brigades.
By the end, Pitcher’s hands were numb from the cold.
“The main thing was everyone got out of the house,” he said.