A Norman Wells family who lost their home and belongings in a fire this week say they’re thankful for the community’s support to get them back on their feet.
Joseph Caidler said he could smell smoke while at home on Monday night but couldn’t tell where it was coming from. When he went outside to investigate, he found smoke coming from the crawlspace.
Caidler said his wife, Shannon, immediately called 9-1-1. The Caidlers and their two children got out of the home and waited for firefighters to arrive.
“It only took about five minutes for the one firefighter to show up and then another five minutes for the rest of the fire department,” he said. “The smoke was getting pretty bad.”
The family stayed in a local hotel for the night as firefighters worked to extinguish the fire.
The only possessions the family could salvage were some photo albums.
“The first night it was shock,” Caidler recalled. “Then, the second day, reality set in. It was like, oh, you’ve got to start all over again.”
Caidler, who has lived in Norman Wells since 1989, said he and his family lived in the home for 14 years and never had any issues prior to the fire.
For his children, he said, losing their possessions has been difficult. For Caidler and his wife, losing photos and memories has been a challenge.
“It makes you realize what’s really important in life. Possessions are just that. The main thing is that my family is safe and we’re alive and doing well,” he said.
“I think if it would have happened in the middle of the night, it might have had a different story to it.”
The community of Norman Wells was quick to rally around the Caidler family, collecting donations of home items and raising more than $10,000 through a GoFundMe page.
The family moved into a new rental home on Wednesday night.
“I appreciate all the help that I’ve gotten, not only from Norman Wells but throughout the Sahtu. We’ve had donations from Tulita and different places in the NWT. It means a lot,” Caidler said. “And lots of moral support from people in town.
“Norman Wells has always been like a big family and sometimes you forget that. And then when something like this happens, it’s like, OK, yeah we are a really big family here. I think that’s for the North in general.”