Yukon North Of Ordinary

News archive for April 5, 2013

Tumbling ceiling pieces awakened fire victim

The local community has already started coming together for a Yukon family who lost virtually everything in an Easter Sunday fire with donations of such household items as clothes, a dryer and beds.

The local community has already started coming together for a Yukon family who lost virtually everything in an Easter Sunday fire with donations of such household items as clothes, a dryer and beds.

That support will continue with a fund-raiser set from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday at the Champagne Community Hall. It’s located off the Alaska Highway west of Whitehorse heading toward Haines Junction.

With her 11-year-old daughter away for a sleep-over at a friend’s place, Wilmonica Van Bibber was sleeping alone in her Takhini River Valley house last Sunday.

Suddenly, pieces of ceiling tile began falling over her, waking her up.

“The whole house was smoke,” Van Bibber’s sister Janet, who’s organizing the fund-raiser, said in an interview this morning.

Wilmonica suffered smoke inhalation complications. She doesn’t remember exactly how she got out of the house.

She managed to make it outside and got to a neighbour’s residence.

That person called the fire department, with the Ibex Valley volunteer department being the first to respond at around 4:30 a.m., followed by the Mendenhall volunteer department.

Earlier this week, Yukon Fire Marshal Dennis Berry said the blaze is under investigation but is not considered suspicious. It’s extremely fortunate there were no fatalities, he added.

This morning, Janet said the cause is still unknown, but it appears it could have been smoldering for some time to cause the extensive smoke through the house.

Once Wilmonica opened the door to get out, the oxygen coming in from the air outside fuelled the blaze, which destroyed the home, she said.

While Wilmonica and her younger daughter lost their home and their belongings, her 25-year-old daughter and four-year-old grandchild also lost many of their belongings. The items were being stored there after the pair only recently moved out.

“They’ve lost all that stuff,” Janet said.

There was no insurance on the house.

Right now, the mother and daughter are staying with family, and both are doing well considering the circumstances.

Janet pointed out that despite the trauma, her niece wanted to head back to school immediately after the long weekend, so they were quick to buy her a new backpack.

Janet noted the family is extremely grateful for all the donations that have been coming in already.

Quilters Without Borders have provided some beautiful blankets her sister loves, she said, going on to note individuals have also come forward with clothes, a bed and a dryer.

Tomorrow’s fund-raiser will help the family with costs.

The festivities will offer something for everyone, from carnival games for the kids, a silent auction thanks to generous donations from local businesses, and the sale of stew and bannock.

Janet said she’d also love to have some live entertainment. Anyone wanting to perform can contact her at 667-6726 or simply show up Saturday.

She also encourages anyone wanting to donate to the silent auction to contact her as well.

Those who aren’t able to make it Saturday, but want to donate, can do so to an account in Wilmonica’s name at the First Nations Bank of Canada located at the Spook Creek Station off Quartz Road.

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