Brockville family of 6 reunited after November house fire

Brockville family of 6 reunited after November house fire

Kirsti Bakker made only one wish after a fire at the Bakker residence near Brockville, Ontario. on nov 7

“I need my family together in one house. That’s all that matters,” Bakker said in an emotional interview with CTV News Ottawa on Nov. 10.

The family of six was forced to split up after the fire and lived between friends’ houses and hotel rooms.

But Kirsti’s wish was granted just before Christmas when the family was now together under one roof, including her 25-year-old son with special needs.

“We got the keys on the 19th and officially moved in on the 20th,” Kirsti said. “The community up to this point has been fantastic. Brockville is amazing, the residents are amazing.”

“We heard from people we didn’t even know who asked for help,” she recalls.

Her insurance company and local agents all worked together to find a rental property that would suit the family.

“There’s certainly a lot of moving things and a lot of people involved in buying a home, from the attorneys to the financial institutions,” said Nathan McNamee, a real estate agent at Royal LePage ProAlliance.

“The Bakker family’s local insurance agent reached out to the real estate community here in Brockville, and I took that up and looked for something that would help in their unique situation,” he said.

Among them was an anonymous investor who had heard about Bakker’s situation.

“I brought him the story and he was fascinated with helping the Bakker family while also expanding his investment portfolio,” McNamee said.

“Certainly the season wasn’t in their favor,” he added. “Inventory levels are very low at the start of the holiday season. This one that came up worked well for them, worked well for the investor, and we were able to put them together.”

“I think it’s a testament to living in a small community like Brockville,” said King Yee, managing partner at JB Kelly Waterway Insurance.

“Having the Bakker family here before Christmas was really a blessing and it worked out well for everyone,” he said.

A photo of the Bakker children hangs on the wall of the family’s tenement, along with a photo that was lost in the fire. (Nate Vandermeer/CTV News Ottawa)

Yee noted that the renovation of the Bakker’s fire-damaged home could take time due to supply chain issues and labor challenges.

“There’s pretty extensive damage, so probably 6 to 8 months in a normal environment, but I think they’re looking at closer to a year,” Yee said.

“At the end of the day, it helps the family to feel comfortable after this traumatic experience and try to resume life as usual,” he added.

“It’s just a good story. There was a traumatic experience, a number of different groups worked together and made the solution as positive as it was,” Yee said.

While the family said they had a hectic holiday with the move, it was the best Christmas present ever.

“Relieved,” Kirsti said.

“We can settle down in one place and just not have to worry about it while we take care of everything else,” added her husband Mike.

“We actually had a few offers of housing from people we’d never met,” Kirsti said. “Tall Ships Landing approached us and offered us two of their suites, but unfortunately they would have been on two different floors.”

“Some places, a bunch of people have come forward to offer rental deals and everything. This one, absolutely in terms of our family size and family needs, was absolutely a no-brainer,” she added.

Kirsti Bakker looks at the charred remains of her family’s home in Brockville, Ontario. (Nate Vandermeer/CTV News Ottawa)

The family was evicted from November 7 to December 20, with community support helping them through.

While the three children stayed with family friends, a local car company came forward with a loaner vehicle so their children could continue to get to school and their appointments.

A family friend added a fifth bedroom in the basement in just two days, and even the home’s sellers agreed to an expedited sale to help the situation, the family said.

“They’re actually in a hotel right now, waiting for their house. They heard about the situation and they were like, ‘Yup, we’re going to do that,'” Kirsti said.

The family was also able to adopt a new cat to replace the cat lost in the fire.

“I didn’t think it would all fall into place so quickly and I was surprised when it happened and I’m very happy,” she added. “(We) are still processing it all and there’s still a long way to go, but we’re back together.”

“We tease them under one roof every day again!” laughed Mike. “Just thanks everyone.”

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