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Couple dealing with aftermath of fire

Annie and Bill Connor  - Kevin MacDonald
Annie and Bill Connor
— image credit: Kevin MacDonald

An Abbotsford couple whose home was damaged by fire on Sunday is not yet sure what their next step will be, a family friend said Tuesday.

Marilyn Lechner said Bill and Annie Connor, who did not have insurance, are still trying to determine whether their home can be repaired.

Members of Abbotsford Fire Rescue Service (AFRS) escorted the family through their gutted home on Tuesday to see what personal items could be salvaged.

They were too overwhelmed to speak with media, an AFRS representative said on the scene.

The home at 29063 Downes Rd. – just east of Bradner Road – was heavily damaged after a chimney fire began in the basement at about 10 a.m. on Sunday and spread throughout the home.

Although fire crews arrived quickly on the scene, the home suffered serious smoke, fire and water damage.

Lechner said, despite initial reports, this was not the home that Bill, 88, had lived in since the age of two.

Rather, his family purchased the property when he was two, and he first lived in a different house on the site. He and Annie, 80, married when she was 16 and he was 24, and they were given six acres of the property on which they built a new home, Lechner said.

That residence was destroyed by an electrical fire, and the couple then built the home that was damaged in Sunday's fire.

Lechner said the Connors were unable to get insurance because their chimney did not have the required insert, but they could not afford the $10,000 to $15,000 that it would cost to add it.

Bill worked for more than 20 years as a truck driver for Dairyland, but the couple are on a limited income, Lechner said.

The couple had been out for their daily morning visit to the A & W fast-food restaurant in Aldergrove when they returned home to see fire crews on the scene. Their only child, John, who lives with them, was safe.

AFRS emergency support services assisted the family with accessing alternative accommodation, but Lechner said that covers a hotel stay only through Wednesday.

She said she and her husband, Barry, have booked three additional days for them at a hotel in Aldergrove. Then, the Connors will figure out what their next step will be.

Lechner said Bill has indicated that he does not want to sell his family's property.

"He wants to stay there until he passes away," she said.

Meanwhile, a trust fund has been set up to help the Connors with whatever costs they will incur. Deposits can be made into account #9035-6371813 for Ann and Bill Connor at any branch of TD Canada Trust.

Members of the public wanting to know how to help are asked to call AFRS emergency adviser Susan Rai at 604-864-5694 or srai@abbotsford.ca.

 

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