‘It’s taking its toll on us’: Elgin fire victims homeless as they usher in the new year


While most people woke up Christmas morning and opened gifts under the tree, Wanda MacDonald, whose mobile home was destroyed by fire Dec. 1, said that Christmas didn’t happen for her family this year.

“The kids came for a quick second for a gift exchange and they went back to where they were staying at,” MacDonald said. “It was horrible, but there’s nothing I can do. The kids (ages 22, 21, 18) spent Christmas at their friends’ homes,” she added.

MacDonald and her partner are staying temporarily at her father’s home, right next door to their home at 15 Wilson Ave. in Elgin, which was reduced to rubble during the blaze a month ago.

According to Rideau Lakes Township’s fire Chief Scott Granahan, a motorcycle and a car were on fire when the deputy chief arrived on scene, and that fire had spread to the carport area.

“Mobile homes tend to be at greater risk,” the chief said at the time of the fire. “It’s the way they’re put together. (For a carport fire) there’s nothing holding it back. Once it spreads, it gets going quickly, and spreads into the home quicker than a garage fire.”

The family still hasn’t found a home to rent.

“I’ve gotten no response. It’s been a month of living hell. It’s taking its toll on us,” MacDonald said. “I’ve tried everything. We’re getting nowhere.”

A three- or four-bedroom house to rent, with a backyard for their six dogs, is what her family is looking for in Elgin, Westport, Portland, Seeley’s Bay, Lansdowne or Brockville.

MacDonald, who works as a janitor at Trillium Health Care in Brockville, confided that she hasn’t hit her “breaking point” yet.

“I’m afraid that’s coming soon. I’m holding strong for my children. I haven’t had time to have a good cry,” she said.

She is grateful for the kindness of people who have helped her family such as her son’s manager, who gave her son money so he can buy an acoustic guitar for Christmas. Her son’s was lost in the fire.

The charred remains of her house can be seen from where she’s staying, and MacDonald admitted that they don’t have the money to clean up the debris.

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“Hopefully 2021 will be better,” she said.

To help the MacDonald family, call 613-532-4827. Cheques can also be mailed to her at 17 Wilson Ave, PO Box 451, Elgin, ON, K0G 1E0.





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