‘It’s very traumatizing’: Winnipeg fire victim recounts losing his home to arson
WINNIPEG — It’s been less than a week since a firebug torched a North Kildonan home and property leaving one family to try to pick up the pieces.
Robert Epp has gone back inside his Oakland Avenue house just a few times since the incident.
“It’s very scary now that you think about it,” said Robert Epp. “It’s very traumatizing.”
Epp had put an old sofa outside his garage Wednesday night and was planning on taking it to the city dump the next morning but he never the chance. He was awoken by the sound of fire and an orange glow around 3:30 a.m.
“It accelerated into the roof and then the roof caught on fire, so it must have been going for a couple of hours before it woke me up and by that time it was too late,” he said. “The roof on the garage was gone and all I could do was call 911 and be helpless.”
WATCH: Fire victim talks about blaze that ruined family home
Epp’s two daughters, eight and ten-years-old, rushed outside immediately. Now, just days later, both are still coming to terms with the loss.
“The oldest one is alright. She is handling it well. She knows she is going to lose stuff,” said Epp. “The youngest one is very sensitive. You can’t even light a candle near her.”
Both of the girls’ rooms were completely destroyed. Damage has been pegged at $400,000. But for the family, it’s not the loss of possessions that hurts the most.
“It’s the memories,” said Epp, while holding back tears. “Now you have to rebuild them from square one.”
This is just one of dozens of deliberately set blazes around Winnipeg that firefighters have been dealing with in the past few weeks.
While officials consider it typical for what they call arson season, is is no comfort to victims.
“All the memories just flood right back in because I saw fire trucks going last night,” said Epp. “It’s instant to what I woke up to. It’s a very scary thing to know that somebody else’s place got lit on fire.”
Neighbours in the area have been on heightened awareness since the incident and bags full of yard clippings have been moved inside until they are ready to go out the morning they are set to be collected.
The family plans to rebuild their home in the same spot thanks to the outpouring of support from the community.
“They took us in like we were family and there was no hesitation in their hearts to take us in and help us out,” said Epp.
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