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Uninsured family loses everything after blaze guts home

A blaze destroyed the uninsured River Road home of a family of five, who are now scrambling in the aftermath. - courtesy gofundme.com
A blaze destroyed the uninsured River Road home of a family of five, who are now scrambling in the aftermath.
— image credit: courtesy gofundme.com

The community is rallying around a Richmond family of five who lost everything in a fire last week that destroyed their home.

On Monday afternoon, April 7, the family's single-storey house at 16540 River Rd., just east of No. 7 Road, was destroyed by a blaze.

While there was nobody in the house at the time, two beloved kittens, Felipe and Pepper, were killed.

Kathleen McNeely Elementary school was holding a fundraiser tomorrow (Wednesday) to help out the family, that includes one of their students.

Proceeds from the pancake fundraiser (from 7:30 to 8:30 a.m.) will go to the family, which was insured for flood damage, but not fire damage.

McNeely parent advisory committee chair May Siew said the school simply wants to help.

"We are just reaching out to the family. Everyone is really concerned about them. We want to know what we can do for them," Siew told The Richmond Review Tuesday afternoon.

Friends of the family have identified them as Al and Jeannie Gibson, and set up a website to collect community donations (www.gofundme.com/85mvh8)

To raise funds, accounts have been set up at two Return-it bottle depots, at Stevestion Highway (Account No. 83) and Queensborough Landing (Account No. 121).

On the social funding website, the organizers wrote: "On Monday, April 7, Jeannie and Al's home, belongings and family pets were destroyed in a fire. Little Emma came home from school to discover her entire house with pretty pink bedroom and everything in it was gone forever."

It's been a challenging year for the Gibson family, with Jeannie being locked out from work since May, and the family suffering a couple of car accidents.

"They have nothing. Precious family photos, a cosily furnished living room, computers, a full-stocked kitchen, five beds, jackets even every last sock....GONE," the website states.

To date, GoFundMe has collected $2,505 through 38 donations.

City of Richmond spokesperson Kim Decker said the fire remains under investigation by both the Richmond RCMP and Richmond Fire-Rescue.

"No conclusion has been made as to the cause and whether it is suspicious or not," she said in an e-mail.

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