EDMONTON — An Alberta family has been left homeless right before Christmas after a fire ripped through their home late last week.
The fire broke out at around 4 p.m. Friday at the Ermineskin Cree Nation home of Jason Cutarm and his wife, Melissa Nepoose. Cutarm’s sister, who is also the spokesperson for the First Nation, said the fire started in the furnace.
Tara Cutarm said her brother’s family of 14 is left scrambling for basic needs, including food and clothing, ahead of the holidays.
“All family members are safe and were able to get out without any serious injury,” Cutarm said in a statement to Global News. “The house has major fire damage, they lost all their belongings, including Christmas presents.”
“Everything was affected, everything was damaged by the smoke and the only two rooms that were left were on the right side of the house,” said Jonathan Stoney, captain of the Ermineskin Fire Department.
The couple lived in the home with their 18-year-old son, three teenagers and eight children between the ages of two and 12.
Treiven Cutarm is the oldest sibling. Right now he and his family are staying in a motel in Wetaskiwin. He said some of the items lost in the fire have a lot of sentimental value.
Treiven said his family is really appreciative of all the support they’ve received from the community.
“I just never thought it would happen to us. But I’m thankful for all the support that we’re getting,” he said. “A lot of people have helped out and not only in just the band but other places too.
And while they lost a lot in the fire, they’re happy everyone made it out alive.
“A home can be replaced but family members can’t,” Treiven said.
A GoFundMe page has been set up to help the family. As of Monday afternoon, more than $2,500 had been donated.
Any other donations can been dropped off at Ken and Elizabeth Cutarm’s home in Ermineskin. Directions to the home can be found on the group’s Facebook page.
Tara Cutarm said the Ermineskin Fire Department is also collecting donations. Items can be dropped off Monday to Friday between 8:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m.
The Ermineskin Cree Nation is one of four First Nations located in Maskwacis, which is about 95 kilometres south of Edmonton.