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Rob Altemeyer, MLA Wolseley
May 24, 2016

Wolseley Fire–Community Response

How a community responds when faced with adversity says a lot about the strength and character of its citizens. Just last month a terrible fire ripped through a construction site and two neighbouring homes in the heart of Wolseley. Two families were left temporarily homeless, and it's a miracle no lives were lost.

Helen Procner and her sister Neda's house on Maryland Street stood right next to where the fire started. When Helen awoke, both exits were blocked and she couldn't reach her wheelchair. It was only the bravery and quick thinking of the firefighters that got both Helen and Neda out safe and sound.

The fire also quickly spread to a second house, this one on Westminster Avenue, known in the neighbourhood as Raspberry Manor for its red colouring. Mark Pomrenke, his wife and their two children were sleeping when their neighbour, Adam Hannah, began pounding on their door. Thanks to Adam's warning, everyone escaped unharmed. Moments later a fireball exploded just a few feet from the bedroom of Mark's eight month old son.

Madam Speaker, the incredible community response to this near-tragedy was immediate and inspiring. Helen's wheelchair was lost in the fire, but she quickly got a replacement from the Society for Manitobans with Disabilities. What's more, the Westminster United Church across the street and the Bell Tower Community Café held a barbecue to help gather donations for the families who suffered loss in the fire. Roughly 200 people attended and Helen discovered that GoFundMe campaigns have also been launched in her name.

Adam lent Mark clothes and shoes the same night as the fire while another neighbour, Amanda, who Mark calls Saint Amanda, came by to deliver diapers and children's clothes in the middle of the night. Mark's plan is to rebuild on his lot and call the new house Phoenix Place, to signify renewal.

My heart goes out to everyone affected by this dangerous and very scary fire. I want to salute the bravery of the first responders who risked their own lives to save the lives of others. I commend the selfless actions, as well, of local neighbours and agencies to help others in their time of need. In the face of adversity, Madam Speaker, Wolseley responded with love, care and compassion. I am honoured today to share this story with all members of the House.

Thank you.