Family overwhelmed by help after fire destroys home

Layne Kapeluck says his family has been overwhelmed with kindness after their house between Wadena and Quill Lake, Sask., burned down Monday morning.

Nothing left of Kapeluck home after Monday night flames near Wadena, Sask.

Layne and Kendall Kapeluck's home between Wadena and Quill Lake, Sask., burned down Monday. They and their four children got out safely. (Wadena Volunteer Fire Department Facebook)

Early Monday morning, Layne Kapeluck's wife had been up with one of their four kids when the smoke alarms started blaring. It wasn't an unusual occurrence; they'd had faulty ones before.

He told her to pull the alarms out of the wall. That's when he found out the danger was real. 

She didn't even stop for shoes.- Layne   Kapeluck

​Kapeluck got up and saw an orange glow in the kitchen that looked to either be coming from outside of the house near Wadena, Sask., or inside of the walls. He opened and closed the door and a window blew out. That's when he said he knew the house wouldn't make it. 

Their two oldest children, ages five and eight, had heard the commotion and made their way outside already. But their twin three-year-old girls were still in bed.

Kapeluck's wife, Kendall, grabbed the twins — one under each arm.

"She didn't even stop for shoes," he said.

'You knew everything was a goner'

The kids were shuffled into a vehicle. Kapeluck said his wife grabbed their cordless house phone on the way out the door so they could call 911, but eventually that effort was abandoned.

"Pretty soon she threw the phone down and you knew it was over," he said. "I said, 'They're [emergency responders] coming but you're not going to save nothing. After the kitchen window blew out, I was just like, 'Yeah, it's cooked.'"

The family of six says they're overwhelmed with the generosity of their friends and neighbours after their home burned down this week. (Facebook)

Kapeluck managed to turn off the natural gas and power connections to the house.

He tried going back inside to get photos and other mementos, but it wasn't safe enough. He grabbed some deer mounts and antlers before he knew he couldn't return.

Shortly after that, fire crews arrived.

"They couldn't do anything and I understand that. The fire was too far gone, I guess," he said. "When they showed up, the shingles and roof were on fire, and you knew everything was a goner."

Help on its way — fast

Kapeluck said the kindness from neighbours and friends was present from the get-go. The family went to a neighbour's home, who cooked them breakfast, as well as making food for everyone who stopped by to check on them.

By 8 a.m., clothes for the children had been dropped off.

[My wife would] go to the washroom or downstairs and come up and find three boxes of groceries or three boxes of clothes just dropped off at the house.- Layne Kapeluck

When Kapeluck visited the bank, he was greeted with a box of children's winter gear, backpacks and cash from the staff's own pockets.

Leaving there, he spotted his wife "just bawling" on Main Street over another person's generosity. The owner of a local pharmacy had phoned around to find out what type of makeup Kendall wears, and about some of the kids' favourite things, and had six shopping bags waiting for her to take from the store when she arrived. 

Kapeluck told his wife: "Kendall, it's going to be tough to accept everyone's generosity."

Groceries, hockey equipment, hand-me-downs and advice

The family moved into Kapeluck's parents' home and they've had unsolicited offers of other places to live.

Kapeluck said it's been overwhelming how much people are giving them, from bags full of chicken breasts, to hockey equipment and jerseys, to boxes of clothes.

"My wife said she had to start locking the door because she'd go to the washroom or downstairs and come up and find three boxes of groceries or three boxes of clothes just dropped off at the house," said Kapeluck.

The family has received so much help that they've asked people with further donations to instead send their generosity to the Wadena Volunteer Fire Department, so that other families can have help in a similar situation. 

Irreplaceable items

Sifting through the ashes of his home days after it burned, Kapeluck was taking stock of some of the memories of his family that just can't be replaced. Everybody made it out OK, but the photos, ultrasounds of the children, wedding rings and other precious items were lost in the fire. 

They've lost a home built 20 years ago by his father, friends and neighbours, along with items such as the charm bracelet he had made with his children's thumbprints, and the clay moulds his wife made of his children's hands. 

"Sticking out of the pile of ash I could see my son's [clay mould] hand sticking up, so I go to pick it up and it just crumbles. And it just killed me," he said.

Kapeluck said insurance will come through for the home and other items, but they're asking family and friends to share any photos they have of the kids, the house and their memories.