Clearland couple loses home to fire for second time

by Gayle Wilson

  • <p>CONTRIBUTED PHOTO</p><p>Firefighters from Mahone Bay, Blockhouse, Martins River and Lunenburg attended the fire, while those from Oakhill were on standby.</p>
  • <p>LLOYD WESTHAVER PHOTO</p><p>An excavator was brought in to haul away part of the house allowing easier access for firefighters to fight the flames.</p>
  • <p>LLOYD WESTHAVER PHOTO</p><p>All that remains of Gail and David Veinotte&#8217;s home on Clearland Road, outside of Mahone Bay. Friends note that the couple lost a home to fire in Cornwall.</p>

Friends and family of David and Gail Veinotte of Clearland are scrambling to provide them with help after their home burned to the ground the evening of January 7.

It is the second time the couple has lost a home in a fire, according to friends.

Lloyd Westhaver, a lifelong friend and former co-worker of David, with whom he volunteered alongside at the Mahone Bay and District Fire Department, is spearheading a campaign to raise some immediate cash for the couple while things get sorted through insurance.

"All they had was their pyjamas and their jackets on when they left," Westhaver told LighthouseNOW.

Westhaver says he was advised that Gail had just gotten out of the shower on the evening of January 7 and noticed that the floor was hot. The couple opened the door to the cellar.

"And that's when they realized all the smoke was coming up from the basement. I think it started in the basement.

"But then, I guess as soon as it got some air, it just took right off because they just grabbed their coats and out the door."

Four fire departments came to fight the blaze - from Mahone Bay, Blockhouse, Martins River and Lunenburg, while Oakhill's was on standby.

According to Adam Ekins, deputy fire chief for Mahone Bay, there was no way to save the Clearland Road home.

"It was in the walls," he said.

An excavator had to be brought in to haul away part of the house so firefighters could put out the blaze.

"We're not sure of the cause, but it was a total loss," said Ekins.

While Ekins said it's always disturbing to see someone's house burn, but in this case knowing it was a fellow firefighter's property "hits a little closer to home."

Referring to two deadly fires in Yarmouth and Ontario the same weekend, which took a total of eight lives, Ekins added the Clearland fire "could have been a lot worse.

"At least everyone got out safe," he said.

Noting that Gail is a home care worker who assists seniors, Westhaver said, "They're good people and they give a lot to the community, so it's about time the community stepped up a little bit."

Westhaver, who volunteers at the Mahone Bay Legion Branch 49, initially orchestrated a collection box there, as well as encouraged e-transfers to the legion.

He reported on the Mahone Bay fire department's Facebook page January 10 that due to the overwhelming support, he has since established an account for donations at BMO in Mahone Bay.

"They will not except E-transfers but just drop and and donate to ( David and Gail Veinotte). This will free up our resources at the Legion as the e-transfers take up quite a bit of time and need to be staffed , although if you are from away from this area , you can still transfer to the Legion or drop by the Legion and leave your donation in the jar."

Westhaver confirmed the Veinotte's lost their home in Cornwall a number of years ago.

"One would be bad enough, but two," he commented to LighthouseNOW.

Westhaver commented on Facebook that he had been talking to David in the morning.

"They are overwhelmed with what has happened and all the support from family, friends and the whole community near and far.

"At this time they are not in need of the necessities as they are taken care of. Right now things are so fresh in their minds, they need some alone time to heal a bit," he said.

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