A Fort Simpson, N.W.T., father and his five-year-old son are still without a home and currently living in a local hotel after a fire just before Christmas.
Luc Macaulay said his home went up in flames on Dec. 22 at about midnight.
He said no one was home at the time – Macaulay and his five-year-old son were at their neighbour's home where Macauley's 10-year-old son lives with his mother.
Macaulay said he was having a snack when he looked outside the kitchen windows and saw flames coming from his own home.
He said he called the fire department right away. It was a particularly cold night, with the temperature sitting below –40 C.
While there were no injuries, he said the home was a total loss — along with all the belongings inside, including their Christmas tree and presents.
Macaulay said after the fire they stayed at his neighbour's house for two days and then moved to a kitchenette suite in a hotel where they've been staying since. He said he has insurance for the home but that assistance is pending an investigation into the fire. The cause has not yet been determined, he says.
His car, which was just outside of the home, was not damaged, but his keys were lost to the fire. That means, he said, that he needs to get it towed to Hay River — about 431 kilometres away — to get a new key recut. He said the towing alone will cost him about $1,600.
The community along with his friends and family came together to donate some new clothes, winter gear and new presents for his son.
"Which was really nice," he said.
For the long term, he said he plans to move to an apartment in Winnipeg owned by a relative who is not currently using it. Once insurance is sorted out, Macauley hopes to make a plan to rebuild.
He said he might also start a fundraiser to purchase a few items that were not as easily replaced.
"My son lost his iPad and a whole bunch of stuff," he said. "This is stuff he needs now."
Fort Simpson Mayor Sean Whelly said he happened to be out driving that evening when he saw the emergency services lights and the glow of the fire.
He said he's been touched to see how the community has rallied together to donate items to the family.
"It was so close to Christmas, I know people were concerned about the young fellow that was in the family … there was a lot of efforts by people to raise some money and get some gifts together for the young guy," Whelly said.
"It's one of those things that you just don't expect at Christmas. But it's nice to see that people do have a heart at Christmas, for sure. And they raced out, and then they did help."
He said he also appreciated the firefighters who responded to the fire.
"It wouldn't surprise me if we had a reduced number of people but they showed up, they got all the equipment working, and you know, they were able to at least make sure that the fire didn't spread," Whelly said.
"I'm just especially glad that nobody got hurt. And that material things can be replaced."