Friends, family in Port Alberni rally around single mom who lost home to fire

Friends, family in Port Alberni rally around single mom who lost home to fire

Sister-in-law starts gofundme account for Monica Odenwald and daughter

A Port Alberni woman who used to spend her time helping others in times of crisis is looking to rebuild her life after her house burned on Wednesday, Jan. 8.

Monica Odenwald had gone to pick up her daughter Samantha from a dance class the Grade 11 student was taking, and returned home to find her house on fire. They have been left with nothing except the clothes they were wearing that night.

“Tragically, Monica now finds herself in need of the help of her community,” sister-in-law Dawn Odenwald said.

Dawn has started a Gofundme account to help Odenwald and her daughter rebuild their home and their lives.

Fundraiser for Odenwald family

Odenwald lost her job at Kuu-us Crisis Line Society in October, and had recently started a commission-based home business. She “was not able to afford insurance, leaving her nothing to rebuild with,” said Dawn.

“This will be difficult disaster for Monica and Sam to recover from on their own. We are all chipping in what we can and hope that many others who know and love these two can help out – every little bit will help.

“Moni has always given whatever she could, even when she didn’t have much and always looks for the positive in every person and situation.”

Monica has started looking for a temporary place to live, Dawn said. She is overwhelmed by the generosity of people in the Alberni Valley who have offered to help. “She has had so many people offer places to stay, to foster her cats, shop owners are comp’ing her supplies for things she needed to buy for the kitties. Hats off to Port Alberni!

“Monica has always been the ‘giver,’ so this has been quite an experience for her to be the one receiving (and) learning to accept help.”

As of Friday afternoon, more than $4,000 of the $10,000 campaign had been raised.

Numerous people have offered household items, but Odenwald doesn’t have anywhere to store such items yet, Dawn said. She is hoping to find someone to help store and/ or coordinate donated items.

Odenwald’s house caught fire something Wednesday night, Jan. 8. Fire crews arrived shortly after receiving a call at 8:48 p.m. for a structure fire. They finally extinguished the blaze at 3 a.m. Thursday, Port Alberni Fire Department deputy chief Wes Patterson said. Crews stayed on scene watching for hot spots until 1 p.m. Thursday, when they turned the house over to Odenwald.

“The house is a total loss,” Patterson said. “It was a tough fire to put out due to it getting into the structure.”

The roof had been upgraded at some point, he explained, so it was part shingles, cedar shakes, plywood, tar paper and asphalt shingles. “It created small void spaces we had to pull apart to make sure the fire was out.”

The PAFD had two trucks plus the ladder truck respond. Chief Mike Owens had said Wednesday night that the fire was challenging to attack from different angles.

READ: Single mom loses everything in Port Alberni house fire

The house immediately to the south of Odenwald’s sustained minor damage due to the heat from the fire, but crews were able to save it from catching fire as well.

Firefighters hadn’t been able to determine the exact cause of the fire, Patterson said, but believe it started in the basement. “We weren’t able to determine the cause; the building isn’t safe to go into.”

All three of Odenwald’s cats, who went missing during the fire, have since been located and are being fostered until Monica and Sam have a place to live, according to Dawn Odenwald.

Members of the community stepped up to help search for the cats, and also to help Odenwald board up what remains of her house. Boarding up a structure following a fire is standard procedure, says Patterson.

“It’s important that a house, especially sustaining that kind of damage, is secured afterwards. For homeowners’ protection to ensure nobody goes inside it,” he said.

The BC Fire Code requires buildings be boarded up within a certain time period, as does a local bylaw, he explained.

Building owners are given an opportunity to do it themselves or for a fee the fire department will secure a building, Patterson added.

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

A trailer with fire damage is taped off by the Port Alberni Fire Department at the Wintergreen Apartments on Fourth Avenue. (ELENA RARDON / ALBERNI VALLEY NEWS)
Fire knocked down at Wintergreen Apartments trailer

City is concerned about zoning, building code and fire code infractions surrounding the trailers

File photo of Gord Johns during World Oceans Day.
Courtenay-Alberni MP outlines priorities for federal budget

Universal pharmacare, affordable housing and Pacific wild salmon are some of the… Continue reading

Alberni Valley Bulldogs forward Lukas Jirousek pokes the puck away from Grizzlies forward Henri Schreifels during a game at the Alberni Valley Multiplex on Sunday, April 11, 2021. (ELENA RARDON / ALBERNI VALLEY NEWS)
BCHL: Career night for Castagna can’t lift Alberni Valley Bulldogs past Victoria

Back-and-forth affair between Bulldogs and Grizzlies ends 7-5 for visiting team

Logging Camp Nine on Great Central Lake overlooks a large forest fire across the lake in this historical photo from May 1943. Camp Nine was bustling, with residences for logging camp staff, a rail line and rail cars visible. This is one of 24,000 photos contained in the Alberni Valley Museum’s digital archives, available for public viewing at (PHOTO PN12220 COURTESY ALBERNI VALLEY MUSEUM)
LOOK BACK: Great Central Lake’s sawmill

Take a peek at Alberni Valley history with the Alberni Vally Museum

Alberni Valley Bulldogs’ goalie Luke Pearson stopped all 22 shots the Cowichan Capitals sent his way to collect a 5–0 shutout in B.C. Hockey League action, Saturday, April 10, 2021. (SUSAN QUINN/ Alberni Valley News)
BCHL: Pearson earns shutout in Bulldogs’ win over Cowichan Capitals

Alberni Valley will face Victoria Grizzlies Sunday, April 11 at 3 p.m.

Burnaby MLA Raj Chouhan presides as Speaker of the B.C. legislature, which opened it spring session April 12 with a speech from the throne. THE CANADIAN PRESS
B.C. NDP promises more health care spending, business support in 2021 budget

John Horgan government to ‘carefully return to balanced budgets’

A lady wears a sticker given out after receiving a COVID-19 vaccine at a clinic in Richmond, B.C., Saturday, April 10, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS
B.C.’s COVID-19 case count slows after last week’s peak

3,219 new cases since Friday, 18 additional deaths

North Cowichan councillor Tek Manhas did not violate the municipality’s code of conduct by posting a sexist meme on Facebook, council concludes. (File photo)
B.C. municipality to take no action against councillor who posted sexist meme

Tek Manhas’s meme doesn’t violate North Cowichan council’s code of conduct, municipality concludes

A 41-person air task force, including 12 members from 407 Long Range Patrol Squadron at 19 Wing Comox, seized more than $3 million CND worth of cocaine as part of Op Caribbe. Photo by Canadian Armed Forces Operations/Facebook
Vancouver Island team helps make $368 million three-tonne cocaine seizure

12 members from 19 Wing Comox involved in Op Caribbe

Killer whales surface near Sebastion Beach in Lantzville on Sunday, April 11. (Photos courtesy Ella Smiley)
Chainsaw and friends near the beach thrill orca watchers in Lantzville

Jagged-finned orca named Chainsaw and 17 others spent hours off Sebastion Beach this weekend

Nootka Sound RCMP and DFO Conservation and Protection Officers seized this 30 foot vessel, fishing gear and equipment as well as Chinook salmon, salmon roe, rock fish and ling cod after an investigation on Sept. 11. A judge in Campbell River on February hit the owner and his accomplices with significant fines, a ban on holding fishing licences and loss of equpment, including the boat’s motor and trolling motor. RCMP photo
Washington State trio’s fisheries violations the worst veteran officer has seen in 20 years

Judge bans three men from fishing or holding a fishing licence anywhere in Canada

—Image: contributed
Indoor wine tastings still allowed in B.C., not considered a ‘social gathering’

“Tasting is really just part of the retail experience. The analogy I use is you wouldn’t buy a pair of pants without trying them on.”

A sign on a shop window indicates the store is closed in Ottawa, Monday March 23, 2020. The Canadian Federation of Independent Business is raising its estimate for the number of businesses that are considering the possibility of closing permanently. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Small business struggling amid COVID-19 pandemic looks for aid in Liberals’ budget

President Dan Kelly said it is crucial to maintain programs to help businesses to the other side of the pandemic

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Most Read