Tova Matthews-Keenan, her husband Brian and daughter Marla are still processing the fact that their home is gutted.
They managed to salvage a few personal items but are left with little else after a devastating fire that destroyed three homes and severely damaged a fourth.
The couple has two other adult children who don’t live in the home.
“We can go to a hotel and rent, but at the end of the day, 19 of us are homeless,” Matthews-Keenan said. “We are going to be displaced minimum a year.
“It’s never going to be the same. It’s changed my life forever.”
Three other homes were charred beyond recognition after fire ripped through Royal Oak Street early Monday morning.
“It’s hard because I worked so hard for this home,” Matthews-Kennan said.
“This was my first home, so this was supposed to my dream life.
“I haven’t slept.”
The family returned to the home Tuesday to start tearing out what they couldn’t save. What the fire didn’t burn, smoke and water has damaged.
“I’m just taking it one day at a time — it’s more like one minute at a time,” Matthews-Keenan said.
“I’m trying to figure out a way to piece our lives back together.”
Losing their home has barely sunk in. They are still reeling from the middle-of-the-night shock and the race to get out in time.
“My husband started screaming and saying: ‘Get out! The neighbours’ house is on fire!’ Matthews-Kennan recalled.
“People ask me: ‘What did I grab?’ Nothing. It’s so instant, you take whatever is on your back and you just leave.”
There were countless embers raining down around her.
“It looked like a war zone, like a bomb just went off on our neighbourhood.”
They are grateful for the community that has surrounded them with support. Family members have started a gofundme for them.
A cause is still under investigation.