HALIFAX – A Halifax family is slowly getting back to normal after a small fire in their kitchen turned into a big mess.
On Sunday afternoon, Suzy Hansen started to make lunch for three of her six children, who range in age from five months old to 11 years old.
She put a pot on the stove in her apartment on Jarvis Lane, and then something caught her attention.
“The little one had run out with no shoes and no pants so you can’t have that as a little girl,” she said.
Hansen ran out after her daughter then got distracted talking with a neighbour and unintentionally left the stove unattended.
It was only after her husband Shannon came out to ask if she was cooking that she remembered the pot on the stove.
“I went back inside and I [saw] flames up against the wall,” she said.
“It was shooting clear to the ceiling. The flames were pretty high,” her husband said.
“They didn’t decrease at all once we took the heat from them. We knew it was time to get some help.”
Shannon and some neighbours managed to extinguish the flames before the fire department arrived. Firefighters then knocked down some of the walls to make sure the fire hadn’t spread.
The area around the stove is charred and there is extensive smoke damage throughout the kitchen and the rest of the house. Four days later, the odour of smoke still lingers in the air.
“The fumes are in everything. They’re in the walls, they’re in the clothes, the floor even,” Shannon said. “Even when you go in there now, the fumes are emanating from pretty much everything in the house.”
Right now, the family is focused on moving their belongings out of the fire-damaged apartment and into another unit in the same Mulgrave Park complex for the time being.
From there, they will sort and decide what to keep and what to throw away.
Contractors have told the family it may take two weeks to a month for repairs to the made to their apartment.
Suzy describes the situation as overwhelming, especially when also dealing with six children, but said the community support has been tremendous.
“Help just came pouring and people just wanted to do stuff [for us],” she said, adding there have been offers for meals, gas money and gift cards.
“People I worked with, people who know me —; it’s been overwhelming and absolutely amazing.”
Shannon said the help they’ve received “is just immeasurable.”
“A lot of people have been chipping in. They’re helping do laundry, every little thing that could be done, everybody has pitched in to help do.”
“Every time I think about it, I get all emotional,” Suzy said as she held back tears. “I would never think that so many people would do so much.
“I feel a lot has been lifted off my shoulders that everybody has been wanting to chip in and help.”
“The first three days were rough but now it’s getting better and the kids are getting adjusted. Everybody has just been so great so I really appreciate that.”
The family, who do not have insurance, said they hope their story serves as a reminder to others to keep a watchful eye over what happens in their kitchen.
Shannon said he never expected a small pot on the stove could cause such headache for the family of eight.
“It really wasn’t more than two minutes, but it was a serious two minutes,” he said.
“If you’re cooking, you need to stay [in the kitchen]. A small pot can do a lot of damage.”