Something woke up Maggie McPherson around 5:30 a.m. on Saturday.
The pregnant mother thought she heard a bang, but when she looked out the window, she could almost touch the flames if she reached her hand out.
“It was really scary,” she recounted. “I waited for a second, hoping it would die down but it didn’t … Next thing I know, someone’s banging on my door screaming, ‘Get out! Get out! Get out! There’s a fire!'”
McPherson, who is due to give birth in late March, woke up her 13-year-old daughter and grabbed their dog. Together, they all ran outside without shoes or jackets. They stood in the cold, watching their neighbour’s house burn down.
The London Fire Department said the blaze happened at 121 Bonaventure Dr. in London’s east end Saturday morning.
Investigations are ongoing to determine what caused that fire that burned down a townhouse and damaged its adjacent units, one of which belonged to McPherson and her family.
“We lost everything,” the mother sighed. “The smoke and water damage at my house is extensive. The fire department wouldn’t even let me walk (into my home) because the CO2 levels were so bad.”
The family’s couches, beds, clothing, the baby’s crib were all ruined. Their basement was flooded, the ceilings were soaked, the walls were bubbling, and some of the windows were broken.
The family was forced to say a painful and unexpected goodbye to their home of 11 years.
Not knowing how she and her family would get back on their feet, an unexpected call from a colleague made McPherson feel hopeful again.
“My friend (called) and said ‘(our) colleagues are setting up a GoFundMe,’ which is very unexpected and I’m just so grateful for them.”
As Monday morning, the GoFundMe campaign had raised more than $21,000.
McPherson held back tears when she spoke about how thankful she is for the community’s support.
“It’s just incredible. I’m at a loss for words.”
Moving forward, the mother hopes to find a new home that’s safe, cozy and big enough for the family before her baby’s due date on March 25.
“For now, we’re living with my parents until Monday, but there’s no room for us here long term,” said the single mother.
“I’m very thankful for my parents for offering up their home, (I’m) thankful for my colleagues and friends … I’m just so appreciative of everything everyone has done so far.”
The London Fire Department said no injuries were reported in the fire. Damage is pegged at roughly $400,000.
Those wanting to donate to the McPherson family’s GoFundMe campaign can do so here.