There’s a blessing among the charred rubble that once stood as Kelly Joanette’s home, she says.
Standing beside the blackened mess, Joanette pauses for a moment to take off sooty work gloves she has been using to rummage through the mess searching for her belongings.
“There is always a blessing,” she says. “And here it’s that people didn’t die in this.”
After working an 11-hour cab shift on Thursday (Aug. 16) night, Joanette returned to her trailer in Timber Town Mobile Home Park on Friday (Aug. 17) at 5:45 a.m. That morning, instead of following her usual routine and crawling straight into bed, Joanette went to a store to stock up on items she would need when she awoke. When she pulled back into her driveway, smoke billowed out of her trailer’s windows.
“I opened the door and I was overcome with smoke,” Joanette says on Monday (Aug. 20).
In an attempt to save her cats, Joanette opened as many windows as she could. Within minutes, flames twice as tall as her trailer towered into the air, threatening neighbouring houses and a tall cedar tree in the front yard. At that point, Joanette knew that 10 years’ worth of saving was being destroyed before her eyes.
“I saved my entire life for this home,” she says, adding that she recently stopped paying for insurance so that she could pay to do renovations on the home.
But as her home burned down, Joanette’s thoughts were with her daughter Niomi. Five years ago, the then-25-year-old unexpectedly passed away from heart complications. Joanette kept Niomi’s urn in her bedroom, close to her. Firefighters were able to save it.
Joanette’s oldest daughter Rachel Locke joins her mother with an object she retrieved from her car. In the days since the blaze, Joanette and Locke have spent hours searching for items they can save. Locke has cleared a patch on a sheet of cracked glass, uncovering a photograph of a smiling, young girl. The picture of Niomi is one of the few items that survived.
“It was almost like [Niomi] was looking out for her,” Locke says of her mother.
It’s hard to image one person going through so much, says Beryl Taylor, the trailer park’s manager. Joanette also works as a home support aid, Taylor says, noting that she is one of the most caring persons she knows.
A trust fund under Joanette’s name has been set up at Squamish Savings.
“The hope is to raise enough so she can get some belongings,” Taylor says.
Taylor is also seeking furniture in good condition, although at the moment there is nowhere to store the pieces. Taylor’s hoping that people can reserve items they are getting rid of until Joanette has a new place.
“It could be collected at some point,” she says.
For more information or to donate items call (604) 898-5688.