Sara and Graeme Stirling, a couple with four kids who lost their home in a fire in October, have temporarily moved to View Royal and plan to rebuild on the site of their old home. (Aaron Guillen/News Staff)

Sara and Graeme Stirling, a couple with four kids who lost their home in a fire in October, have temporarily moved to View Royal and plan to rebuild on the site of their old home. (Aaron Guillen/News Staff)

Highlands family plans to rebuild after losing home, three dogs to devastating fire

Family of six begins to rebuild their lives with new puppy

It was over a month ago, on Oct. 3, when Sara Stirling got a call at work from her neighbour, saying that smoke was coming from her Highlands home.

“I had no idea what that meant, but I grabbed my purse, keys, and phone and ran out the door to get home quick,” the mother of four said.

She arrived just after 2 p.m. to find her home overwhelmed with flames. She stood and watched for two hours as crews from Highlands Fire Department, Willis Point Volunteer Fire Department, Colwood Fire Rescue, and Langford Fire Rescue tried to douse the blaze.

Her husband, Graeme, and their four kids soon arrived to find their home and all their belongings destroyed. Then, they were told the last thing they wanted to hear.

Their three dogs – Dino, a Shih Tzu Bichon cross; Angel, a Pomeranian Chihuahua cross; and Bailey, a Rottweiler – all died in the fire.

RELATED: Neighbor rallies community support for family that lost home, pets in fire

“It was two storeys of a house burnt down to eight inches of ashes,” said Highlands Fire Chief Dean Ford. “When we arrived, the house was fully engulfed. It’s nearly impossible to figure out the cause with that much damage. We can’t possibly come to a conclusive answer with those factors.”

Stirling said they are okay with not knowing what started the fire. Now, they’re trying to return to normalcy. “Our family is focused on healing, moving on, and rebuilding.”

They have since signed a one-year lease on a View Royal home after hopping from hotels to AirBnbs. They plan to rebuild on the site of their old home and hope to be back by late 2020.

They’ve also found a new furry friend, Ernie, who is a three-month-old Pomeranian Chihuahua cross. They adopted him at 14 weeks old.

ALSO READ: Nanaimo family with four young daughters loses all their possessions in house fire

“He’s healing for all of us,” Stirling said. “He’s a calm little puppy that has spots like Bailey, and the personality traits of Angel and Dino combined. I picked him because of his beautiful eyes. When we’re hurting the most, we can turn to our pets for comfort.”

Stirling said she doesn’t have words to describe how she and Graeme feel about the help the community has given them. From the words of support to the donations on GoFundMe, the couple said the generosity from friends and strangers has brought them “back to feeling human again.”

As of Nov. 14, the GoFundMe page alone has raised more than $11,000.

The family is looking for lookalikes of certain toys that hold sentimental value to their kids – three daughters ages eight, nine, and 15, and a six-year-old son.

The list is as follows: TY Beanies of Dora and Boots, a Jellycat Fuddlewuddle Kitty, a small blue unicorn stuffy with a ribbon, an old Playmobil set #4487 ‘The Gardener’, and a wooden firetruck set sold through BC Children’s Hospital. She’s willing to buy them, if necessary.

You can reach the family at sarachristine@live.ca.

Editor’s note: An earlier version of the article incorrectly stated Sara and Graeme’s last name. We apologize for the error and any confusion it may have caused.

aaron.guillen@goldstreamgazette.com


@iaaronguillen
Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

 

After the loss of their three family dogs, Sara and Graeme Stirling have found a new furry friend, Ernie, who is a three-month-old Pomeranian Chihuahua cross. (Aaron Guillen/News Staff)

After the loss of their three family dogs, Sara and Graeme Stirling have found a new furry friend, Ernie, who is a three-month-old Pomeranian Chihuahua cross. (Aaron Guillen/News Staff)

Just Posted

Environment Canada has issued a wind warning for Greater Victoria, with winds expected to get up to 70 km/h Friday morning. (Don Denton/Black Press Media)
Wind warning promises blustery Friday for Greater Victoria

Winds up to 70 km/h expected Friday morning

Passengers in rows 13 to 19 on Air Canada Jazz flight 8069 from Vancouver to Victoria Feb. 28 were exposed to a case of COVID-19. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette)
COVID-19 exposure found on flight from Vancouver to Victoria

Passengers in rows 13 to 19 on Air Canada Jazz flight 8069 Feb. 28 affected

Crews deal with a rock slide on the Malahat section of Highway 1 in 2017. (Black Press Media file photo)
Rock work closes Highway 1 in Langford for spurts

Friday closures could delay drivers up to 20 minutes

Low interest rates have acted as a catalyst for the pandemic real estate market. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graeme Roy)
Real estate sales surging across Greater Victoria but risks lie ahead

Single family home prices jump nine per cent over past year while condo values remain stable

Protestors against old growth logging gather in front of the courthouse in Victoria on Thursday morning. (Don Denton/Black Press Media)
Fairy Creek protesters gather at Victoria courthouse

Logging company seeks injunction to remove blockades near its Port Renfrew operation

B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix and provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry head for the B.C. legislature press theatre to give a daily update on the COVID-19 pandemic, April 6, 2020. (B.C. government)
B.C. nears 300,000 COVID-19 vaccinations, essential workers next

564 new cases, four deaths, no new outbreaks Thursday

(Black Press Media file photo)
POLL: How’s your butter?

Recent reports have some Canadians giving a second look to one of… Continue reading

Anyone with information on any of these individuals is asked to call 1-800-222-TIPS (8477) or visit the website victoriacrimestoppers.ca for more information.
Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers wanted list for the week of March 2

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

Walter Gretzky father of hockey hall-of-famer Wayne Gretzky waves to fans as the Buffalo Sabres play against the Toronto Maple Leafs during third period NHL hockey action in Toronto on Tuesday, Jan. 17, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Walter Gretzky, father of the Great One, dies at 82

Canada’s hockey dad had battled Parkinson’s disease and other health issues

The intersection of Melrose Street and Third Avenue. (ELENA RARDON / ALBERNI VALLEY NEWS)
Suspect in custody after two pedestrians struck in Port Alberni hit and run

RCMP asking for video footage, credit witnesses for quick arrest

(National Emergency Management Agency)
No tsunami risk to B.C. from powerful New Zealand earthquake: officials

An 8.1 magnitude earthquake shook the north of New Zealand Thursday morning

Comox Valley RCMP had access to 20 Street blocked off between Cousins and Choquette avenues as they conducted a raid of a house on the block. Photo by Terry Farrell
Comox Valley RCMP raid Courtenay problem house, several arrests made

Comox Valley RCMP conducted a raid of a problem house on 20th… Continue reading

(AP Photo/Richard Vogel, File)
Pandemic stress, isolation key factors as to why Canadians turned to cannabis, alcohol

Study found that isolation played key role in Canadians’ substance use

Grand Forks’ Gary Smith stands in front of his Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster float. Photo: Submitted
Grand Forks’ Flying Spaghetti Monster leader still boiling over driver’s licence photo

Gary Smith, head of the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster of B.C., said he has since spoken to lawyers

Most Read