Fire destroys Glen Walter home

Fire tears through a home on Page Drive in Glen Water, Ont. Wednesday, April 27, 2016. The family managed to escape before the building was engulfed. (Newswatch Group/Bill Kingston)

GLEN WALTER – A South Glengarry family, living in Glen Walter for nearly three decades, has lost their home to a massive fire.

The fire started around noon in the one-and-a-half storey home with a detached garage at 6798 Page Drive (on the southwest corner of Lana Drive and Page Drive).

Four South Glengarry fire department stations responded to the scene and the entire west side of the building was completely engulfed by the time firefighters arrived. Fueled by a brisk west wind, the fire took off, engulfing the building.

Danny Brunet, a part time school bus driver, was home at the time with his son, Denis, and they managed to get out safely with the family dog. Adding to the tragedy, the family was in the home with friends, grieving the recent loss of a family acquaintance.

“We seen people in the front (of the house) pointing at our house and stuff and then we looked out the side window and I thought it looked like a (car) burnout. We went in the back and our porch is on fire. I tried to get the hose out, put some sort of water on it, that wasn’t working,” Denis Brunet told Cornwall Newswatch.

“Everybody’s safe. But we also sat here…watching the firemen watch our house fall apart because they had a mechanical issue with their pump. I’m not very happy with that,” the younger Brunet said.

“It was at the back of the house…(now) there’s nothing left!” he said.

Acting Fire Chief Dave Robertson said firefighters had already started putting out the fire when they ran into pump problems.

“We had a minor mechanical issue with our first pumper unit and the second pumper unit arrived and we switched over to that. We were down for approximately 4-5 minutes. We had already begun extinguishing the fire,” the acting chief told CNW.

Danny Brunet’s wife, Brenda, who works at McConnell Manor, and his daughter, Michelle, were not home at the time of the fire.

Denis Brunet said, with extended family living in the neighbourhood and “the whole neighbourhood has our back,” they would be able to find shelter in the short term.

At one point, overcome with the loss, Danny Brunet started screaming at the firefighters. “Put some water on the God damned thing,” he cried, as family members and police consoled him.

The fire drew scores of onlookers, which also frustrated firefighters as the streets in the subdivision quickly became clogged, making it difficult for tankers to bring water to the scene.

The acting fire chief said the congestion also contributed to delays in getting water to the scene.

Neighbour Dennis Tyrell tells CNW the Brunets also kept a “nice, neat” property and had done a lot of upgrades to the home over the years.

Tyrell said the wood-framed house had been moved to the site several years ago.

“I know the back porch was full of flames and the garage was full of flames when I saw it, but I don’t want to speculate (on what happened),” Tyrell said.

The South Glengarry Fire Service is leading the investigation to determine a cause.

A GoFundMe page has been set up for the family.

Click on an image below to see more pictures from the scene.