B.C. Ambulance Service paramedics bring the Elder family’s youngest daughter to an ambulance to be checked over as Nanaimo Fire Rescue crews battle a house fire on Burma Road on Wednesday. CHRIS BUSH/The News Bulletin

Nanaimo family with four young daughters loses all their possessions in house fire

Cousin starts Gofundme for family who lived on Burma Road

A Nanaimo family with four young daughters isn’t sure where they’ll go next after the house they were renting was destroyed by fire.

Selina Schlief of West Kelowna has started a Gofundme for her cousins Ernest and Brettnee Elder and their children, who lost all their possessions in a house fire Wednesday on Burma Road and didn’t have tenants’ insurance.

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Brettnee was home with her daughters and was home-schooling the eldest, who is five years old. Brettnee had actually specifically shown her daughter the process of starting the fire that morning as a bit of a lesson.

Brettnee noticed the house got “kind of smoky,” so she double-checked the fireplace vent, opened some windows, and had just resumed her housework when she heard a crackling sound coming from the roof. She scrambled to get her kids out of the house – the baby was wearing only a diaper – called 911 and looked for the garden hose, which was attached to a trailer and not easily accessible.

By the time Nanaimo Fire Rescue arrived on scene, the house was fully engulfed in flame.

RELATED: Occupants safely out of burning house in north Nanaimo

Brettnee said her kids were good and didn’t panic in the emergency.

“I told them, it’s OK, God’s with us, it’s material stuff, we can get a new home, we can get new stuff. As long as we have our family, that’s our home, wherever we are together,’” she said.

Firefighters rescued one cat with singed whiskers and a dog that the family was pet-sitting is also safe, but two cats are still unaccounted for.

Brettnee said some of the possessions she’s most upset to lose are wedding photos and identification. Ernie lost “tons and tons and tons” of remote-control cars.

“A huge collection he had going; he’s really devastated, I’m like, ‘I’m sorry babe, we’ll get you new RCs,” she said.

Nanaimo Fire Rescue confirmed that the family did not have tenants’ insurance. Brettnee said she actually tried to get insurance, but wasn’t able to because the lease was in her mom’s name.

The Elder family may go to stay with family in the Okanagan, but Brettnee said they want to stay in Nanaimo long enough to get a chance to salvage what they can from the Burma Road house first. She said yesterday was “not a good day,” but she was keeping a positive perspective.

“I had a really rough upbringing, I was homeless a lot,” she said. “It’s a tragedy, but we’ll move on from it.”

For a link to the Gofundme page, click here.



editor@nanaimobulletin.com

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