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‘We will pay this forward’: Guilletville family overwhelmed by generosity after house fire

Sadly, the family’s cat, Bruce, perished in the fire; home is a ‘total loss’ 

Chantal Beauparlant said she’s overwhelmed with the community’s generosity after her family’s Guilletville home was destroyed and they lost nearly all of their possessions in a fire Saturday evening.

A friend of her older daughter has been collecting donations of essential items for the family, while another family friend started a GoFundMe page.

“We’ve never thought we’d get even half of this support, and it’s just unbelievable, and we’re like we will pay this forward,” said Beauparlant.

“I know I would help somebody out like that, too, but when it happens to you … you don’t know what to say. What are the best words to say what you really, truly feel like? Overwhelmed, that’s all I can say. We’re very overwhelmed with all the generosity.”

She said the family has been keeping a list of those who have helped, and plan on sending them a token of their thanks later on, perhaps thank-you notes.

Beauparlant said the fire started at around 7:30 p.m. Saturday evening in her younger daughter’s bedroom. The blaze is still under investigation by the fire marshal.

At the time of the fire, she and her fiancé, Roy Gareau, along with her 14-year-old daughter, Anna, were upstairs talking about going to Tim Hortons while Beauparlant’s older daughter, Andrea, 19, was downstairs, in a room adjoining the one where the fire started.

Although Beauparlant and Gareau have a larger blended family, it was just the couple and the teens currently living in the home.

Beauparlant said they were alerted to the fire when Andrea began screaming her sister’s name, thinking she was still in the bedroom, which was in flames.

“She was frantic,” she said. “And I just started running downstairs and said ‘Anna’s upstairs!’ ”

The girls ran out of the house with their dog, Moxie, while Gareau grabbed the fire extinguisher. He tried to put out the fire from an outside window, but the glass exploded on his hands, cutting him badly enough to require stitches.

Beauparlant searched the burning home for her cat, Bruce, but she couldn’t find the animal in time, despite its anguished cries. She had to get out of the house.

“It was so sad,” she said, in tears at the memory. “I kept hearing his scream. I know people say it’s just a cat, but it’s still a life, right?”

Beauparlant said she was glad the fire didn’t reach Andrea’s room before she escaped, and also that Andrea wasn’t alone in the home when the blaze started, as the rest of the family was planning on going out.

Despite the efforts of firefighters, Deputy Fire Chief Jesse Oshell tweeted Sunday morning that the home was a “total loss,” as the fire had breached through the roof.

“The firefighters, they were here within minutes,” Beauparlant said, adding that the firefighters did their best.

Asked if they were able to get anything out of the home, Chantal said they were only able to throw a few pairs of shoes outside. A safe was recovered from the remains of the home, but it was discovered that the passports inside were mostly burned.

The family has been staying at a hotel in Sudbury for the last few days, and are now moving into a friend’s two-bedroom Airbnb. “We’re going to go live there, and hopefully the insurance will pay for that,” Beauparlant said. “We’re not quite sure.”

Hailey Kroft, who is Andrea’s best friend, headed up the efforts to collect essential items such as toiletries, clothing and bedding for the family as they navigate these first days after the fire.

She said she already dropped off six bags for the family, but is still collecting. 

In terms of clothing, she’s looking for sizes small to large in ladies’ sizes, and medium and large in men’s sizes. She’s also looking for sizes 7-9 in women’s footwear, and 8-11 in men’s footwear. Winter-appropriate items would be appreciated.

Although there have been offers of furniture, that’s not currently a need.

“I’m just trying to help them just so it’s not as much money they have to spend right now,” Kroft said. “To have to rebuild everything and get all their clothes back … 

“I’m extremely appreciative (that the community) has been able to help me help them. I’m very close to the family, and I wanted to do everything I could. It’s just great that so many people want to help them.”

Anyone who wishes to donate items (as described above) to the family is asked to send a personal message to Kroft on her Facebook page.

A GoFundMe page has also been started on behalf of the Beauparlant-Gareau family, and had raised more than $4,800 as of Wednesday afternoon.


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