Residents of Bragg Creek have been showing their support for a local family that is picking up the pieces after their new home was lost to a fire in September.
Crackling flames awoke Ben and Tamara Mahar, as well as their infant son Viktor and Tamara's mother, in the early morning of Sept. 16.
While they were able to get out of the home unscathed, the fire quickly spread throughout the house's wooden foundation, claiming the Mahar's home and all of their possessions.
“It’s a bit of a shocking thing to happen, but we’re coping and dealing with it,” Mahar said. “Luckily, no one in the family was injured. It was just the material possessions we lost. We should be able to recover and rebuild, and hopefully we’ll be back there once we can get the house rebuilt.”
Mahar said the family appreciates the community support in the weeks since the fire, adding one of their neighbours allowed them to stay at their home in the days after the fire.
“They were really nice, giving us a place to stay for the first few days, donating a bunch of clothes, and then one of the neighbours set up a GoFundMe page, which was super nice,” he said. “We’re really grateful to be in such a great neighbourhood where the community was really able to help us out.”
After staying with neighbours for the first few nights, Mahar said his family has since been staying with his mother in Airdrie while they sort out insurance implications and plan for the future.
Since the fire occurred, two GoFundMe pages have been posted in support the family. One can be found by searching Wild Rose Fire – Mahar support, and the other can be found by searching Love and support for Ben and Tamara.
Collectively, the two pages had raised more than $5,000, as of press time.
According to Hannah Klassen, Mahar's sister and the organizer of one of the GoFundMe pages, the family had only moved to West Bragg Creek in June from Toronto.
“With the third wave of the pandemic, I think they were tired of being in an apartment in Toronto,” Klassen said. “They had been saving and talking about buying somewhere for a long time. They were looking at places in Bragg Creek and they looked at this house. Even just from online, they really wanted to check it out. They didn’t even give a month’s notice for their apartment in Toronto, they just hired movers, sent their stuff across the country and drove out. They checked out the house, checked out one other house after, but then went back and bought it.”
Klassen said Rocky View County Fire Services determined the cause of the fire was the family's propane barbecue. She said the appliance was either left on or there was an issue with the barbecue's PVC piping that somehow sparked the blaze.
Mahar added he believed the barbecue was the source of the fire as well, though he noted he had not received official confirmation from Rocky View County Fire Services.
RVC Fire Services did not respond to a request for comment before press time.