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Flood, then fire: Calgary family hit by second devastating event

After fleeing his burning northeast Calgary home, Keith Kennedy didn’t see his two sons – so he went back in to get them.

Kennedy, owner of Tribal Expression tattoo shop, was asleep on the couch in his Whitehorn home July 26 when he was awoken by the sound of a crackling fire.

His entire family – three kids, his wife, and three household pets – were asleep. It was around 1:30 a.m.

“I heard a noise, and it was just that really distinct fire noise, that crackling roaring fire,” he said.

“It was basically to my backside, unbeknownst to me it was a super distinct, orange unmistakable fire.”

Dazed and confused with smoke billowing into the house from his back deck, Kennedy instinctively alerted his family.

“I just gave everything in me, the most guttural yell like I could manage, ‘get out of the house!'” he said.

‘I lose my shit, man. As a father, I’m like, ‘where are the boys?’

As the house burned, Kennedy said he saw his wife grab their oldest daughter and escape out of the kitchen window.

As they regrouped outside, he noticed that his two sons were still inside the house.

“All I can hear is my wife say to my daughter, ‘where are the boys?’ I lose my shit man, as a father I’m like ‘where are the boys?'” Kennedy said.

“At that point, man, I just jump, I didn’t even think about it, I jumped back into the house and it’s definitely burning.”

Kennedy went room by room searching for his two sons, yelling for them to leave the house.

After he made sure they weren’t in the home, he grabbed his dog and once again made his escape through an open window.

Everyone was safe and outside the blaze as Calgary fire crews arrived on the scenes shortly after.

There is an official investigation into how the fire was started, Kennedy believes that the cause was a faulty bug zapper that was on the deck at the time.

“At this time they’re looking into all theories, but my suspicion as the homeowner would be the bug zapper,” he said.

When it rains it pours

Kennedy said that this fire was the latest devastating event to happen to the family in the last few weeks.

The family’s basement was flooded by water backed up from the drainage system. This flooding caused by torrential rain during one of the recent storms.

“We just had a flood three weeks ago in the northeast, where our sewer backed up in basically took out our whole basement and 60 to 70 per cent of everything we owned was down there, ” he said.

“The craziest part is, then all of the stuff salvaged from downstairs, that was good moved upstairs. And now this fire wiped it all out.”

The aftermath of the fire

The family is now staying at Kennedy’s mother-in-law’s house in Calgary.

They’re hoping to devise a plan and work with insurance companies to get back on their feet.

A Facebook fundraiser was set up on behalf of the family that now has close to $2,200 in support.

Kennedy’s sister in law, Julie Kennedy, said there’s been tremendous support from the community. People are stepping up by providing the family with food, clothing, and financial support.

“The community’s actually been incredible because they did lose everything, We’ve had some of the donations that came in yesterday. They managed to get the kids, some of the basics,” she said.

“We’re going to be giving them a care package, that has just some basics so that everybody in the family has some toiletries and some clothes and pet food.”