Alberta mother and son overwhelmed with support after Coaldale house fire

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Mother and son overwhelmed by support following Coaldale, Alta., house fire
WATCH: A house fire in Coaldale early Monday morning destroyed Amanda and Ryker Orsten’s home. But in the days since, the mother and son have been embraced by their community. Danica Ferris has more – Apr 2, 2020

A mother and son from Coaldale, Alta. are reflecting on a tragic morning that took their first real family home.

Amanda Orsten bought the house in July of 2019, and early Monday, it went up in flames.

“My son actually wasn’t in the home at the time, which is something that I’m very grateful for,” said the single mother. “It was his room that was the first to be engulfed in flames.”

Orsten had made the decision to send 10-year-old Ryker to stay at her parents’ house while she was working and schools were closed due to the COVID-19 outbreak. It’s a decision she’ll be forever thankful for.

Ryker’s timely absence gave Orsten and her partner one less concern when the smoke alarm went off at around 5 a.m. on Monday.

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“[We opened] up the front door, we could see that it was the front of the home that had started on fire,” she said. “We were able to get out of the house… and he actually also went back in and got my dogs [and] fortunately actually grabbed my purse.

When Orsten and her partner got out to the street, a neighbour had already called 911. The Coaldale Fire Department arrived in short order.

“It was within 10 minutes, but it felt a lot longer than that for me,” said Orsten.

In the days since the tragedy, an outpouring of support from the community has been the bright spot for the Orstens.

As of Thursday afternoon, a GoFundMe page had raised nearly $8,000.

Much of the support has come from Ryker’s Coaldale Minor Hockey community.

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“I’m just in awe of the support,” said Orsten.

“There’s not a doubt in my mind that hockey will forever have an even a deeper meaning, in terms of how special it is, to really be a part of the hockey community with my son.”

The overwhelming support has been the biggest silver lining in a dark time.

“In a matter of 24 hours we had lost everything and then regained so much more,” she said. “Really realizing what’s put into a home.”

A home that — with the unwavering support — is rooted in Coaldale now, more than ever.

The cause of the fire is still under investigation.

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