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One small dayhome fire causes three major heartaches

Fundraiser ongoing for couple left temporarily without a home
2007 fire DR07
There was a relatively minor fire at Auntie Moo-Moo's dayhome in Forest Lawn in St. Albert on July 10 but awarning remains posted on the door on Thursday, July 18. DAN RIEDLHUBER/St. Albert Gazette

The fire in the attic of Auntie MooMoo’s Dayhome in Forest Lawn more than a week ago might have been relatively minor but it touched off a series of events that have left its operators temporarily homeless with one of the couple also struggling to get his health back. The business has also been put off balance.

“It’s been a big shock,” said Ashley Poulin, the daughter of the homeowners who are aged 60 and 52. “It's been a crazy week, that's for sure.”

What happened that morning could have happened at any time, she said. At around 7 a.m., Poulin’s sister (who still lives at the house) plugged something in and the power went off in the house. That was fairly typical at the house, Poulin said, so nobody really thought anything of it except that no breaker was tripped.

Poulin’s stepdad went outside to get some tools and a flashlight, but the smell of burning made him look to the attic where wisps of smoke were already seeping out. He ran back inside to shut off all of the breakers before grabbing a garden hose from outside and rushing up into the attic to put out the fire.

“He said that it wasn't a large amount of flames. It would have probably just started flaming but he was able to put them all out. By the time he finished, the fire department got there,” she continued.

He was probably up there for more than 10 minutes and breathed in “a lot of smoke.”

After the firefighters took over control of the situation, he stepped outside and collapsed. The smoke coupled with his pre-existing heart condition led him to suffer a heart attack. He was released from hospital two days later and will likely need half a year to fully recover.

“He does have excessive damage to his lungs right now. They say it’s going to take at least six months of recovery. His chest feels heavy and his lungs are burning. Hearing him talk too is a little rough. He’s definitely very raspy but it's better than what the alternative could have been. That's been the fortunate part for sure.”

In the fire department’s investigation, they determined that the electrical fire was caused by a short at the connection between copper wiring and aluminum wiring, Poulin said.

There was water damage to the house including some collapse of the ceiling inside too, but the bigger issue is that it also tested positive for asbestos. That means that all of their belongings are not salvageable, she continued, and that the structure is uninhabitable until all of the toxic chemical is cleaned out. That could take six to eight months.

“They left the house with nothing but what's on their backs. They were able to get all the animals out, which is good. My parents have a lot of animals.”

Fortunately, the couple is now living in the basement of one of the families whose children attend their dayhome. The business has taken a bit of a hit, however, which has left them without their primary source of revenue. A crowdfunding campaign has been started to help anyone offer their financial support to get them back in the black. People can find it by searching for ‘Auntie MooMoo's Dayhome (Fire)’ on GoFundMe. As of Friday morning, it had collected nearly one-third of its goal of $10,000.

Scott Hayes

About the Author: Scott Hayes

Scott Hayes joined the St. Albert Gazette in 2008. Scott writes about the arts, entertainment, movies, culture, community groups, and charities. He also writes general news, features, columns and profiles on people.
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