By Emily Stonehouse
Deb Fisher was having a regular day on Tuesday, Oct. 17. When she left her home – the home that had once belonged to her mother – she said her pets were all curled up and sleeping for the day.
But later in the afternoon, when Fisher was out chatting with her neighbour, her worst nightmare became a reality. “She said to me, ‘Deb, your house is on fire’ and I didn’t believe her. I said, “That’s not what I need right now.”
Fisher had lived in the home with her two grandchildren, Neveah and Dominic, as well as their 10 pets, who they treated and loved as family.
Her grandchildren attend the Adult Education School in Haliburton, and both work locally with their peers and friends. They have lived with their grandmother in that same house since they were infants. “I rounded the kids up, and we got them all together, and we thought the pets had survived, thought they had escaped, but we learned they didn’t make it.”
All but one animal had perished in the fire, including two dogs, five cats, and two rabbits. The Minden Fire Department tried to revive each animal, but only one dog survived. “I think we love animals more than most people do,” Fisher shared with the Times, “and our pets can’t be replaced. We had acquired each one, one by one, based on different circumstances, they came to us. They needed help, and they trusted us.”
According to reports, the cause of the fire was electrical, and the wiring in the house led to an LED power pack; the type that plugs into a wall and is connected to coloured lighting. “I had no idea,” said Fisher, “but it turns out they are not strong enough to trip the breaker, and it started the fire. We lost literally everything.”
Fisher said that she had been using the LED lights for years. “We didn’t have a lot, so I used to get the lights for the kids, to put in their rooms and decorate the place. The lights were not turned on, but the pack had overheated.” The reports noted that there were no working smoke alarms in the home.
While the fire started in the afternoon, it stayed ablaze for hours as firefighters from multiple jurisdictions managed it. Upon hearing about the deaths of the pets, Fisher said that Minden Hills Fire Chief Shain Duda was the one who really stepped up. “He stayed for hours on end,” she said. “That fire kept catching, but he stayed. And he helped bury all nine pets with us. The kids wanted to say goodbye to their pets, and Shain helped us do that. I can’t thank him enough for the kindness that he showed us.”
Fisher and her family did not have insurance to cover the damages, so they are left without clothing, household contents, and a roof over their heads. They are being housed at the Pinestone currently, but need to be out by Oct. 27, at which point they do not have any options. Though Fisher noted that staying in Haliburton County is a must. “The kids need to keep going to their school, their jobs, and be around the people who support them and love them,” she said. “I don’t want to leave the area.” She is actively trying to find a home somewhere in Haliburton County, but has recognized the challenges of finding affordable housing; particularly on such short notice.
Beyond a home, Fisher and her grandkids are seeking clothing, food, and supplies. A Go Fund Me has been set up, and is currently sitting at over $2000 in donations from the community, which Fisher hopes will help with rent if a home becomes available. Fisher’s granddaughter, Nevaeh, works at Hook, Line and Sinker in Haliburton, and they have set up a donation jar, and the Wellness Hub in Haliburton has set up a bin seeking clothing donations for the family, at their facility on Industrial Park Road.
If you can help support this family during a very difficult time, please text Deb Fisher directly at 705-306-0236. Any help would be greatly appreciated by the family.