Store owners continue after fire destroys their home

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It was an ordinary day at Beggar’s Banquet Books in Gananoque. Christmas shopping hours have just been extended and owners Tom Stormonth and Alison Dunn were driving home to Howe Island on their way to the Joyceville ferry just after 7 p.m. Friday night.

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They received a call from a neighbor who was worried about them, as fire trucks were heading towards their house.

The fire was discovered by another neighbor who came out of the house to smoke a cigarette and looked at the family house, originally thinking it was a large campfire until what the flames ignite.

He quickly called 911 after seeing the flames, Stormonth explained.

“I was driving as fast as I could to the Joyceville ferry,” Stormonth said, adding that they had arrived at the ferry right after a first responder did, and he couldn’t forget his dog, Lola, who was in the house. at the time of the fire.

On the ferry ride to the island, Stormonth said he was able to speak with the first responder who was able to radio the chef through the ferry captain’s radio, only to find they were still fighting the fire but the dog was safe.

Shortly after the ferry docked at Howe Island, the two vehicles scrambled onto the road as numerous fire trucks and emergency vehicles lined the street.

“We ran up to the house and when we got there it was completely on fire,” Stormonth said.

“We were sitting in the car with our dog, watching our house burn in front of us as the firefighters tried to put out the flames.”

He described the fire that ravaged their home as “violent and heavy”.

Stormonth said when firefighters first entered the house they believed the dog was dead because she was still lying on the ground until she was accidentally pushed by a firefighter working to extinguish the fire.

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She was found in the back bedroom before the firefighter grabbed her and took her outside where she was given water and a dog oxygen mask.

No human injuries have been reported, but Lola from the lab has smoke in her lungs and her throat is burning. However, a few days later, she is on the mend; she is hand fed with soft foods and she starts behaving like herself again, Stormonth said.

According to Howe Island Fire and Rescue Chief Mike Quinn, it took about four hours for the fire to be extinguished. They arrived at the scene shortly after 7 p.m.

A majority of the house was destroyed by the fire, with the exception of a more recent addition which was damaged by smoke. Firefighters managed to contain the fire in the main area of ​​the house, Quinn said, adding that it appears the fire started at and around the pellet stove.

“The whole front part of our house is gone,” Stormonth said.

Stormonth, Dunn and Lola are currently staying in the apartment upstairs above the Old English Pub in Gananoque, a business next door to theirs.

However, the fire did not prevent the couple from returning to work on Monday.

“You can sit at home and let things go through your mind or you can occupy yourself,” Stormonth said, adding that he and his wife have segmented the workload: he’s been dealing with the insurance company for that she works at the store.

“People keep asking us what they can do to help,” he said.

Many people have deposited food, money and socks, but they will find other accommodation with the insurance company.

“The best way to help struggling small business owners is to support their business. This is how you can support us, ”said Stormonth.

The bookstore is located at 126 King Street East in Gananoque. The couple took a day off to catch up on sleep and attend to other things on Tuesday, but reopened the store doors on Wednesday as usual.

( Jessica Munro is a Local Journalism Initiative reporter who works for the Brockville Recorder and Times. The Local Journalism Initiative is funded by the Government of Canada. )

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