The owners of Eldon's Pantry, a restaurant in Ottawa's Glebe neighbourhood, have temporarily shut their business after they lost everything in a house fire.
Ottawa firefighters responded to the couple's building on Stewart Street in the Sandy Hill area around 4:30 p.m. last Friday for 911 calls reporting a fire in a roof, which was quickly deemed a second-alarm fire.
Inside the building, Marhlee Gaudet says her partner Cory Baird was settling in for a nap with the couple's seven-month old son Felix when a neighbour heard the fire and knocked on their apartment door.
Officials say the fire, which began outside, was under control in about 40 minutes, and the couple doesn't know what caused it.
"It's kind of scary ... It seemed almost like the neighbourhood knew before the tenants inside did," she said, adding Baird tried to calm the flames with a fire extinguisher, but the dry heat was too much.
The couple lived upstairs with their son, two cats and a dog while Gaudet's mother, sister and her mom's pets lived on the main level.
After several trips back inside, Baird had time to ensure every person and pet escaped safely.
"The heat from just our bathroom was crazy and he looked up at the window and all he could see was orange," Gaudet said.
"It's definitely been a rough couple days, but we're together and we're safe, so that's most important."
Restaurant set to reopen this weekend
The couple has had to close their restaurant on Bank Street near Second Avenue, and they are staying with Baird's father in Metcalfe, which Gaudet says is too far away for a daily commute to run a restaurant.
They plan to open on weekends starting this Saturday while they plan their transition, which includes moving the restaurant to Carp in the city's rural west end.
LISTEN | Owners of Eldon's Pantry affected by devastating house fire
That move could happen sooner due to the fire's effect on their lives. Neither the couple nor other tenants had renters' insurance, which has left them facing difficult financial times.
Their friend Ryland Jacob-Louis started a GoFundMe fundraiser that has already surpassed its goal.
"[They] have worked hard to overcome the many challenges the industry has faced over the past year and a half due to the pandemic," Jacob-Louis wrote on the fundraiser page.
"Losing their belongings and valuables in this incident is truly heartbreaking."
Gaudet says they have received an "unbelievable" amount of help from neighbours and friends, and they are thankful as they get set to find a new home.