The community of Wasa is coming together to help a local after his house burned down this weekend.
Ron McConnell, whose house is next door in Wasa, said Gerald Dekker’s house caught fire around noon on Saturday, April 12.
“It started just around lunch hour,” he said. “He had built this house himself over the last two years. It was a log house.”
Dekker and his dog both made it out so no one was injured.
McConnell said the house wasn’t quite finished, but was only missing a few finishing touches, like the railing outside made of custom bent willow.
“He and basically a few of his friends were working on this for the last two years,” McConnell said. “I’d say it was more than 90 per cent complete.”
When McConnell arrived it was 2 p.m. and the house was totally engulfed, just a roaring inferno. He said Dekker had discovered the fire.
“I was talking to him afterwards collecting his thoughts,” he said. “They think – they haven’t established cause or anything yet – it started somewhere in the chimney. It’s weird because it’s a brand new chimney, brand new house, approved and the whole bit.”
One of the big concerns as the house burned was to keep the fire as contained as possible, to make sure it didn’t spread to the surrounding farm land and forest.
“There were probably 15 local people there,” he said. “Local guys that had arrived with shovels and rakes and things, making sure that it didn’t spread.”
They managed to save most of Dekker’s animal mounts and a few items of furniture. Dekker was a guide and outfitter at one point.
“But everything else, all his clothes, furniture, food is gone. A freezer full of meat gone,” McConnell said. “No insurance. No fire department. There was no way to put it out. There is no one there with that kind of capability to get water up there. The hydro lines were cut off almost immediately by the fire, so his well wouldn’t work. We were hooped.”
Dekker was able to find a place to stay, since his parents live nearby.
From the Wasa Lions Club, within an hour he had a cheque for $1,000.
Wasa Slim Pickens Gas and Goods has a donation box out for Dekker, and McConnell said there would likely be other things going on as well over the next few days.
“I think the community will really come together. Everybody knows everybody out there and everybody knows him,” McConnell said. “A lot of people in (Cranbrook) know him as well.”
People can also get into contact with McConnell through the Wasa Community Facebook page to help out.