A Peterborough couple who died in a house fire early Saturday is being remembered for their kindness.
Family have identified the victims of the house fire on Gillespie Avenue as Martin Vinette, 65, and his wife, Mary Crowder-Vinette, affectionately known as “Juney.”
Jody Crowder, the former daughter-in-law, says the couple were known for their kindred spirits.
“They were the type of people — didn’t matter who you were — they could have met you only five minutes ago (and ask), ‘Do you need anything? do you want anything?'” Crowder told Global News Peterborough on Monday.
“Just their kindness — you know, always just, ‘How are you? Do you need anything? Can I get anything?’ Their kindness.”
The couple were together for more than 40 years and raised two sons and had several grandkids, Crowder said. They were also known for their hospitality at their home.
“Always something going on, always company, visitors — they all gathered at Juney and Martin’s house,” Crowder said.
She also said the couple were also longtime fans of Peterborough Music Fest, the annual summertime outdoor concert series at Del Crary Park.
“Loved, loved, loved it. Never missed a day, even if it was raining, they were there,” she said. “Wednesdays and Saturdays, that was their little tradition.”
The fire destroyed the home and three vehicles in the driveway. It also damaged neighbouring homes, including the home of Tasha Aubin and her partner Adam Hayes. They were asleep when firefighters knocked on their door around 2 a.m. Saturday.
“I’m still half asleep and kind of distraught and I kind of peeked out the front window and all I could see were flames, barreling out of the neighbour’s house,” Hayes said.
Aubin said they quickly ran out of their house.
“As I was running out of the house, there was like an explosion so I ran across the street as far as I could and he was not long behind me,” she said.
“Things were popping and it was terrifying, so she ran just to the far telephone pole there and kind of gathered,” Hayes added. “I ran out after and we just sat there. We couldn’t really understand what was going on. It was just pretty surreal at that time.”
Aubin and Hayes said first responders attempted to resuscitate the Vinettes outside the burning home.
“Mentally, it’s tough to see it,” Hayes said. “You worry about your own safety and you replay the events of — thankfully we got out — what can you do better. We weren’t prepared.”
“It was -20 C out and we were running for our lives.”
Aubin and Hayes say the blaze reinforces the importance of families having a fire escape plan, especially with children at home.
“I messaged both my sisters and I said, ‘Talk to your kids and tell them what to do if something like this was to happen,'” Aubin said. “Because you just don’t know. Have somewhere to go.”
They also expressed their gratitude to city firefighters and to whoever called 911 to report the fire.
“Thank you. You possibly saved our lives, for sure.”
The cause of the fire remains under investigation. The Ontario’s Office of the Fire Marshal is assisting in the investigation.
— with files from Jessica Nyznik, Global News Peterborough