A Horrible House Fire Tragedy – Can You Help?

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I have just found out that my ex-wife (Angela McCleery) and her husband (Steve Lindsay) who reside near Oxford Station and Oxford Mills, Municipality of North Grenville, Ontario, along with my 22 year old son (James Scott) and Steve’s 17 year old son Sean, have lost everything in a house fire. The house burnt to the ground while they watched with only the clothes they have on their back. Indeed, from what I understand, Angela had to flee the house wearing her pyjamas. There is literally nothing left of their house or possessions.

This happened yesterday (Sunday August, 27th, 2012) and details are just starting to arrive my way.

My heart aches for them at this time, and I have no idea at this point if anyone else has created a help fund for them on their behalf to assist them through this emergency – so at this time, I am going to begin one. For the time being, any financial donations can be sent to my PayPal address, [email protected]

Clothing donations are also badly needed. I will post clothing sizes as I find out.

This is a terrible tragedy that many of us fear, and when it actually happens to someone you know and care about, it really hits close to home. If you can help, please do so.

I will update this as I can.


Clothing needed:

Women’s shirts, size Small, Dress size 8 or 9, ladies shoes size 8, Pant size estimated 8 or 10.

Mens size 32 waist 34 length and size 30 waist 32/34 length jeans/pants

Mens S M L shirts, Size 11 and Size 12 shoes
The sons are 22 and 17 years old.

Best address for donation of clothing and shoes at this time:

Angela McCleery
C/O Doris McCleery
P.O. Box 73
Kars, ON K0A 2E0

PayPal donations c/o [email protected]

Second Update

More information – the fire started in the garage, and Steve attempted to extinguish it while Angela called 911. However, it spread too fast and too quickly, and although Steve attempted to try to save some items like photograph albums, he was unable to do so. There is nothing salvageable – and I know that even though my older two sons were not living there, they still had much of their childhood possessions and stuff at the house. The other two sons, James and Sean, have nothing left.

Steve built the house himself, even hand milling the timber himself that went into it’s construction. It is a tremendous loss of of both a home and one’s own love and labour. However, we are thankful as devastating as this is for those involved, that there was no loss in life and that no one was standing near the propane tank when it exploded.

Donations Update

Thank you so much to those who are working on clothing donations.

Financial donations so far – $100.00  $150.00 $350.00 $375.00  $790.00 $890.00  $990.00  $1,015.00 $1,115.00 $1,155.00  $1,165.00(Thanks so much to everyone so far!!)

Donator List

Those who have helped, are helping or have made pledges of help in some way, including financial, donations, etc, our huge thanks. This is not a comprehensive list, but only those who I personally know about:

Judy Boneschansker, Lisa Turner, Helen Asimikis, Joe Gorscak, Heather Boneschansker, Melaura Boneshansker, Tara Stephen, Anonymous, Anonymous, Beverley Bible, Steve Henry. Peter Finch, Ben Treen, David Hafernik, Julie Magson, Ted Murphy, Pat Halbach, Ruth Morris-Vaillancourt, Catherine Finch, Grace Stephen, Darcy Rumble

Update – A Note To The Cynics (Sadly There Are A Few)

I hope I am not the only one to have found it offensive during this difficult time some members of my family have gone through, for some people to ask along the lines of, “Well, didn’t they have insurance?”

Well, yes, thankfully they did. That insurance however, is not going to take away the pain and anguish of having just lost everything. Even though eventually, there will be insurance money, why do some seem to be more focused on the fact that “EVENTUALLY,” they will probably be comfortable again? Why not help and make them as comfortable as we possibly can NOW during this horrible time they are going through?

I am so very thankful for the people that have wanted and have actually helped at this time right now! I care about them, I care about my son who is basically at the moment homeless and without any of his possessions, even if eventually some of them that have monetary value will be replaced with insurance money. Much of what they had that has no monetary value but has huge personal value which will never be replaced and cannot be replaced, but we has caring humans can (and thank you so much to those who are of the same mind) try to do what we can to make their lives more comfortable, above and beyond what the insurance will pay for at this time.

There are transportation costs, food costs, and clothing and other expenses that will need to be paid for that will be unexpected. There may be loss of immediate income. I have no idea and I’ll learn more over the coming days.

And yes, it is not just my sons, but my ex-wife, and although she is my ex-wife, she is still family to me and my family. Our families go back.. way back.. to Northern Ireland, before she and I were even born, and I still love her family members including her mom and aunt.

I am very sorry to those who have responded with a sense of “well, the insurance should cover this and that…” yes, that is reassuring – in the meantime, please note: EVERYTHING has been destroyed. They need cash for shampoo, deodorant and other personal needs, food, comfort, and the fact that they know genuine people, and not just some insurance corporations, care. For me, it is wonderful to see the outpouring of support towards my sons and their family.

It must be one of the most devastating things in the world to see your every belonging be destroyed. That the insurance company will eventually cover much of it is not much of a great thing, when your photo albums have been destroyed, you are not sure where you are going to be living in two or three days.

Thank you so much to those who are helping in spite of the fact that yes, eventually they will be doing ok. Right now, the very fact they have to deal with insurance companies and everything else is a loss of immediate income as well as the loss of everything else that has been suffered.

Personally, I don’t care if Angela and Steve end up with thousands and thousands more and above what any insurance company pays out. Steve built the house with his own hands, right down to milling the timber (and probably cutting the trees) that made the house. No insurance company can ever pay for that kind of personal loss. My son Alex told me that the look on Steve’s face as he watched the house he built, burn down will be forever etched in his mind. The grief, the utter disappointment, in watching what you proudly built, destroyed. Nothing can pay for that, as we as humans and people that love, can help at least in the interim, to make their lives more comfortable. They are homeless right now, and even if an insurance company helps to cover some or most or even all of those costs, they are still without home, RIGHT NOW. I am saddened that some don’t get that, and I do appreciate so very much those that do want to reach out and give what they can to help with the utter desperation and obvious terrible circumstances they are in. Why not help them be more comfortable at this time?

Everything has been destroyed. They need underwear, socks, stuff that no one should donate. There are costs to grieving that no insurance company can pay. We can’t even pay for that except to help them be more comfortable. No government agency can help pay for that; only individuals who care can help with that. Angela fled the house in her pyjamas. Things we take for granted like drivers licenses, (on top of everything else) was destroyed. Her eye glasses need to be replaced, and probably will be at some point – maybe paid for by insurance money – in the meantime, what? If she is stopped by the police while driving and can’t produce her drivers licence because her purse as well as everything else was destroyed, then what? And that is just a very small tiny fraction of the things they need to think about and deal with right now.

I also know that Angela, Steve and my sons will eventually give back as well, after they have rebuilt and got their lives back to some sense of normalcy. I know that for a fact. I know their character in that regard. It is the way they were brought up. It is the way we would all like to be brought up and what I value, I know they value.

I know they need help, and if in the end, they receive so much of it, I know they will give it back when they can. In the meantime, I want to make sure they have the help, that they can get deodorant, underwear, socks, access to healthy food, try to get back to some sense of normalcy as fast as possible, some level of comfort as fast as possible.

And if they end up with some additional comfort above and beyond basic necessities, then all the better for them, having had to have gone through such a terrible, traumatic and horrific experience. And if your cynical.. fine.. hope it never happens to you, is all I can say. A million dollars can’t pay for the trauma, but a few extra bucks and realizing that the human spirit is caring, and people do want to help, and they will do what they can to help, is priceless, above and beyond insurance or Red Cross assistance.
And that is what I am thankful for. Thank you to those who have reached out and have offered or pledged help.

Angela is no longer my wife, we’ve had our disagreements over the years, but there is absolutely no way in hell or heaven that I would ever take any joy in what has happened to her and the sons we had together, or even if it was just her and her partner. If you’re cynical, and think that the insurance company is good enough, or the Red Cross.. then please don’t even bother responding. Just keep your thoughts to yourself. Thank you.

And thank you to everyone else who is shocked, who has a sense of human decency, of wanting to help, of something deep within themselves to share pain, and want to help take away pain. We’re not waiting for the government, or the Red Cross, or the bureaucracy of insurance companies. Help is needed now. And how dare the government statist cynics place a value on loss that is just monetary, and respond with nonsense.

Thank you.

9 thoughts on “A Horrible House Fire Tragedy – Can You Help?”

  1. Rev. Stephen B. Henry, PhD.

    Ian, my thoughts and prayers are with you and the family that lost so much. Although I wish I could do more than the small donation I have sent to your PayPal account, at this time I cannot. All the best with your efforts at fund raising. Ignore the critics and continue with your wonderful efforts. There are good people who will help. -Steve/wiz.

  2. Thank you so much, Steve. As the wise young man said, “Together,. we can do so much.” I prefer it when it is voluntary… and it truly means something from the heart, and I will pass on your generosity and am very grateful. I know that the folk directly concerned will be very thankful and grateful as well… and I thank you, Steve, from the bottom of my heart.

  3. Ian, I have “known” you mother for quite a long time through the web, and I have “watched” you mature over several years. Although I can offer nothing at this time of financial or material assistance, please be assured that my earnest prayers follow all concerned.

    Jeanne Lee

  4. Ian, I first “met” your mother way back in the earliest days of SeniorNet and we became close cyber friends. Since then, although we’ve never actually met, we have become even closer and I try to give her a little help on Seniors & Friends and on Christian Photographers.

    Be assured my prayers for the family continue.

  5. Grandma in Tennessee

    This is SUCH a terrible tragedy. I’ll be praying for all concerned. A son recently suffered a great loss, so I understand the anguish involved.

    I’ll be praying for all concerned.

  6. Ian, our family recently experienced an all-to-similar disaster. From personal experience, I can tell you that the outpouring of support from our friends, colleagues, community and church family have been so much more meaningful to us, than any assurance of pending insurance or disaster relief effort. Support in the form of prayers, physical labor, meals, temporary housing, gifts and money are all equally valuable during times like this. The loss of items that are tied to memories of youth, relatives who have passed on, and mileposts of living can never be replaced, yet the sting of their loss is softened by the compassion and generosity of friends and strangers. Your family will be in my prayers.

    1. Bigskyken – very sorry to hear of your family’s similar disaster, but I sure appreciate your comments. I cannot imagine what my sons are going through as they consider the loss of just about everything they had, and the loss of all that was ever important to them growing up, which was still in that house.

      I can only do a small part to help myself and wish it was more. Thank you for your thoughts on your experiences and the support that you received when your family went through a similar tragedy. I don’t want to take away from the great things the Red Cross does either – they did provide gift certificates of $120.00 per person towards clothing – but in reality, that does not go very far, especially when you have lost everything. Replacing a pair of steel toed boots needed for work could take up 50% or more of that $120.00. The Red Cross does a great job, but in times like these, easing the sting as you write, can be done when loved ones and friends care and help out.

      Thank you for your thoughts and prayers.


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