By Darren Lum
Last week, disaster in West Guilford was averted because of a working smoke alarm and an eight-year-old with the presence of mind to take his four-year-old cousin and alert his aunt of the fire.
At 7:28 a.m. there were 20 firefighters and six fire trucks that were deployed to a residence on fire on Kennisis Lake Road in West Guilford. They arrived to flames and smoke coming from the roof of the single-storey house. Everyone was out of the house by then. Close to 11 a.m., the fire was contained and the firefighters returned to base. The house was a total loss, valued at $300,000.
While the firefighters worked to extinguish the fire, the community was busy helping however they could, whether it has been with financial donations, or temporarily having the two boys, Walker Davis Brown and Angus Gryphon Wowk from the affected families, as provided by neighbours Mark and Brandon Stamp, or how the school principal of Stuart Baker Elementary School, Karyn Linton Marra came to the scene to help and upon seeing her students in robes left and returned with two complete ensembles, including shoes for the boys to keep. The school had also accepted donations for the family during the assigned times for all of its students, who were dropping off school equipment and picking up student work or belongings left from the year.
The boys’ grandmother Gayle Crosmaz has posted to Facebook about how much the families have appreciated the support and the compassion extended in their time of need.
She started the Help Gayle’s personal emergency fundraiser on Facebook. So far there has been $6,172 raised of a $25,000 goal. She said the families are still assessing what’s needed, but the hope is to find a house to rent for four adults and two children. Gayle said they want to remain in the community that has treated them so well. Currently, they are in Campbellford with family.
From Gayle, “The family also want to convey their deepest regards to all the community members [whose] support they have received, it is amazing how many people stepped up to offer assistance to my family. We are blessed, every personal and sacred items that have memories and/or fond attachments survived the fire. They did not have monetary value only heartfelt value,” she wrote. “Blessings from Gayle Crosmaz and my family.”
This includes daughters Natalie Crosmaz-Brown and Lezly-Ann Crosmaz-Brown, Nick Wowk, Opa and the boys, Walker Davis Brown and Angus Gryphon Wowk.
Through Gayle, a submission by one of the three grandfathers (who wished to remain unnamed) to the boys explained what happened that Tuesday morning on June 22.
“I am one of three grandfathers to the boys in this, and have been asked to speak for the family. On Tuesday morning, June 22, a fire destroyed our home, but the story of what happened inside that house is far more important. Walker, on the day of the fire explained to me, in great detail, what happened in there and I hope I can convey it to you as accurately as it deserves. Walker was lying on the living room couch watching cartoons, facing away from the kitchen/dining room area, which is large and open. The smoke detector goes off, Walker sits up and sees that Angus is close to the walls and the corner that [is] covered in flames and smoke. He moves toward the fire, takes Angus’ hand and says something like, ‘we have to go Angus’ and walks him toward the front door, on the way, shouting to his Aunty, who doesn’t know the other side of her wall is on fire. Walker unlocks the night bolt, opens the front door and takes four-year-old Angus down the front stairs to the parking area.
“We estimated from Walker’s description that from smoke detector to parking area was probably less than 30 seconds. In that time he assessed the danger, formed a plan, and calmly carried out that plan. He is eight, eight! You cannot improve on what he did. You hear things like this, but you never in your wildest imaginings, think you’ll ever live them. If you read this, it’s hard not to be moved by what these boys did. From this very grateful family, to all grandparents and to others, if you can, hug them every chance you get, because you, like myself, have no idea what’s coming at us next. To Walker Davis Brown and Angus Gryphon Wowk, thanks, from Opa and all of us for being what you are.”