Stettler Fire Department battles a house fire in Erskine Jan. 11. (Stettler Fire Department Facebook photo)

Erskine and area residents help couple who lost their home and belongings to a fire

Erskine Post Office accepting donations until end of January

By Emily Jaycox

For the Stettler Independent

Richard and Bonita Givens of Erskine lost their home and possessions to a fire that burned into the night Friday, Jan. 11.

A Facebook post at 6:54 p.m. by Richard’s brother stated, “Please pray for my brother Richard and his wife Bonita. Their house in Erskine, AB, is on fire as I write this.”

The fire started in the Given’s garage and spread to their mobile home trailer, according to Stettler Regional Deputy Fire Chief Etienne Brugman.

The fire department received the call around 5:15 p.m. on Jan. 11.

About 15 members were on site until 2:15 a.m. to get the blaze under control.

“It was a total loss for the trailer as well,” said Brugman.

Part of the trailer, located on the east side of the curling rink, is still standing but is unlivable, according to Brugman.

The cause of the fire is still under investigation, but there is no suspicion of foul play, says Brugman.

READ MORE: Fire Prevention Week message from the Alberta Fire Commissioner. Look. Listen. Learn. Be aware. Fire can happen anywhere

According to Brugman, the couple were in the home when the fire started in the garage.

Someone came and knocked on their door, alerting them to the flames, and they were able to get out before the fire spread to the trailer.

The trailer was located close to the garage and “the wind kind of pushed it that way.”

Brugman says the department is pleased a community member warned the Givens in time and no one was hurt.

“It’s always amazing how people step in to help,” he said, adding community members brought food for the firefighters and the Givens seemed to be taken care of as well.

Community and church friends came out and ensured the couple had a place to stay, and Victim Services is now involved as well, says Brugman.

Cash donations have started to come in for the Givens.

The Erskine Post Office started accepting cash donations for the Givens on Jan. 14 and will continue to the end of the month.

“Erskine is a pretty close-knit community so it helps anybody who is down,” said Manager Pat Kelm, who started the fundraiser with her daughter, Sherry Marshall.

“It’s just to give them a helping hand … just to give them a boost.”

The pair decided to take cash donations only for the convenience of the Givens and because online fundraising platforms such as GoFundMe keep a portion of the donations.

Kelm believes the couple are currently staying with family.

Erskine is about 11 km west of Stettler

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