Manitoba

Public responds to donation plea for Gimli fire victims

Donations from across Canada are pouring in for a Gimli family who lost everything in a house fire on New Year's Day.

Donations from across Canada are pouring in for a Gimli family who lost everything in a house fire on New Year's Day.

Greg Welch, 41, and his two children, Jordan, 18, and Jayda, 12, escaped the fire along with six other people.

Greg Welch, left, and children Jayda and Jordan, escaped Tuesday's house fire but lost their home and belongings. (Family photo)

Welch is in stable condition in hospital, after suffering a neck fracture and burns on his shoulder, but Jordan remains in critical condition with severe burns to 65 per cent of his body.

He is undergoing emergency surgery for his burns on Thursday.

Jordan had gone back into the burning house to rescue his sister, not realizing she had also escaped safely. Jayda's only injuries were some cuts and bruises.

The six other people, who were at the house for a party, also escaped and suffered various non-life-threatening injuries, RCMP said.

Family member Ian Tarnowski has asked for donations to help get the family back on their feet. He said they have endured a lot in recent years, with Welch's wife dying of cancer in September 2009 and his father dying from a heart attack seven months later.

"Four hours into 2013, and they already lost everything," he told CBC News on Wednesday. "They have nothing. They don't even have the clothes on their back because they were burnt off in the fire."

Tarnowski said he is looking for "donations of any kind, big or small, from cash donations to gently used clothing to furniture or anything you can think of that you would need to start a life over again from scratch."

On Thursday, he said people have responded generously.

"I'm absolutely overwhelmed. When you get such an overwhelming response, its an absolutely amazing feeling," he said.

"I feel elated in that aspect but still have to keep obviously grounded due to the fact that Jordan isn't out of the woods yet."

Cash donations are being accepted at any CIBC branch across Canada to a trust fund created in care of the Welch family. Donations can also be made at the credit union in Gimli.

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