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Family’s home goes up in flames

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When Sandra Morrisseau joined the Couchiching Volunteer Fire Department, she probably never expected to be called to a fire at her own home.

But early Sunday morning, she watched her house go up in smoke.

“It’s completely lost,” Morrisseau said Monday from her brother’s home where she, her husband, Charlie Windigo, and their children, Crystal, 12, Charlie, seven, and Emily, four, are living for now.

“Half is burned down, half is still standing," she added. "It’s completely destroyed.”

Morrisseau was out with friends when she was paged around 3:15 a.m. Sunday.

“Then I just ran to where my children were,” she said.

Couchiching Fire Chief Curtis Jourdain said yesterday that firefighters were on the scene about seven minutes after they got the call. A call for assistance also was relayed to the Fort Frances Fire Department.

“By the time I reached there, it was on the roof,” Jourdain said, noting visible flames already were spurting through the roof.

Then an explosion, probably the result of a heat explosion or flashover, spread the fire to the rest of the house, he added.

“There was a lot of flame," he said. "It must have been a heat explosion.”

Jourdain said the fire was called in by a taxi driver who noticed a strange grey mist from the highway. By the time he arrived, Morrisseau’s husband and children already were outside the house.

“There were other witnesses there working the hand-line until we got going," Jourdain said. "I think the taxi driver was among one of the people working [it].”

Meanwhile, everything Morrisseau and her family had was lost in the blaze. She said her husband tried to save some items but the smoke was too thick.

And although no one was physically injured in the fire, the emotional scars remain.

“The oldest child still seems a little shook up," Morrisseau said. ”I get mad when I think I need this thing and it’s gone.

“I wish I knew what started it," she added. "At least then I’d know.”

A donation drive has been started up at Our Lady of Lourdes Church on Couchiching from 8 a.m.-4 p.m. Old clothing, toys, kitchen appliances, even monetary donations are welcome.

Morrisseau said the community support for her and her family has been outstanding so far.

“My friends are stopping by with little things that add up to big things,” she said, noting items have ranged from toys to lunch items for the children.

The cause of the fire is still undetermined though it is believed to have started in the laundry room.

Jourdain said he would be meeting with the gas company this week to see if the home’s hot water tank could have sparked the blaze.

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