Tignish family loses almost everything in house fire

Isabelle Getson and her family were out shopping before arriving back at their Tignish home Monday afternoon to the smell of smoke.

'The floor is caved in, there is a lot of water damage too'

Isabelle Getson looks over debris at her family home that was damaged by fire Monday afternoon. (Brian Higgins/CBC)

Isabelle Getson and her family were out shopping Monday afternoon before arriving back at their Tignish home to the smell of smoke.

Getson and her mother checked the basement.

"We saw smoke coming out like crazy and we saw the flames there right behind the furnace, it was like blue and red," Getson said.

She said she called 911 immediately and started to get everyone out of the house.

She lives there with her mother, grandmother and father. Her dad was the only one not at home when the fire happened. Getson said she was able to save the family's dog and four of the family's six cats from the fire.

Getson recovered a commemorative coin from the house fire. The coin bears a photograph of her late uncle, fisherman Maurice (Moe) Getson, who drowned Sept. 18, 2018. (Brian Higgins/CBC)

"I could only grab four. And we didn't get the other two in time because I wasn't going to risk my life," she said.

The call came into the Tignish fire department around 2:15 p.m., said Tignish fire Chief Allan Gavin.

"When the fire department got on scene there was quite a bit of smoke at that time that had accumulated and it was pretty well all through the house," he said.

He said the fire started in the basement where there was a lot of firewood and a wood-burning furnace. Gavin said it took about four hours to get the fire under control because it was burning in the floor joists.

The provincial fire marshal was on scene investigating the cause Tuesday, Gavin said.

Everybody knows everybody, so we all have to come together when a big crisis happens.— Isabelle Getson

"They didn't really indicate, to myself anyway, what it was. I am sure they will make their decision soon," he said.

The Tignish, Alberton and Miminegash fire departments responded to the call. No people were injured in the fire.

1st fire call

Getson recently became a firefighter herself and said this was her "first fire call," but she wasn't allowed to be involved in fighting the fire. She said she was helping get firefighters water and food.

"Even though it was my house, I just also wanted to help out as much as I can," she said.

Getson doesn't know if or when she and her parents can return to the home. She said the family lost almost everything in the fire.

"There is a lot of smoke damage. The kitchen is basically gone, we think anyway. The floor is caved in, there is a lot of water damage too," she said.

She said it is hard to say if the family can salvage the home — right now they are staying at Driftwood Cottages.

'There is a lot of smoke damage. The kitchen is basically gone, we think anyway. The floor is caved in, there is a lot of water damage too,' says Getson. (Brian Higgins/CBC)

Getson said the family has received a lot of support since the fire.

"A lot of the community just helped out so much. We got like literally over a truck full of stuff right now," she said.

Getson said she has seen the community come together in times of tragedy before.

"Everybody knows everybody, so we all have to come together when a big crisis happens," she said.

The Getson family hasn't been able to return to their home and have been staying at the Driftwood Cottages in Tignish. (Brian Higgins/CBC)

The family knows exactly what that is like.

"We had a tragic death that happened in September of 2018 on the 18th," she said.

Her father's brother, Maurice (Moe) Getson, was one of two fishermen who died when the fishing boat Kyla Anne capsized off of North Cape. The community rallied and a larger search ensued before the bodies of both Glen DesRoches and Maurice Getson were found later the same month.

"I just want to say thank you to my community on that. We couldn't have done this without, they are such a big help for our family after two big like crises that happened," Getson said.

"We all come together."

Fire Chief Gavin isn't surprised the Tignish community rallies in times of tragedy.

"That's Tignish for you, anytime anyone needs any help they are right there," he said.

More P.E.I. news


  • A previous version of this story said two dogs escaped the fire. In fact, the family owns one dog and it escaped safely.
    Nov 19, 2019 6:32 PM AT

With files from Brian Higgins and Brittany Spencer


To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.

Become a CBC Member

Join the conversation  Create account

Already have an account?