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Fire has New Westminster family looking for place to stay

A Moody Park single mom is scrambling to find accommodation for the next few months after a fire damaged the family home last Friday.

However, Kirstin Shaw is also extremely grateful to the friends, neighbours and firefighters that have come to the family's aid.

When the fire broke out in the basement of their home on the 1000 block of Seventh Avenue, Shaw was out shopping with a friend while her mother, Sandra, was at an appointment and her son, Heimdal, was across the street in his Grade 5 classes at Lord Kelvin.

The only casualty was a cat named Kato. Another feline, Raven, was found alive just before the home was being boarded up.

"That was a miracle, she came out and was alive," said Shaw.

A passerby, Pete Parest, told the NewsLeader at the scene he saw the smoke and heard the family dog, Gypsy, barking. He alerted neighbours and told them to call 911. Firefighters found Gypsy, a Rottweiler/retriever cross with three good legs and a stump for a fourth, hiding in Sandra's bed, said Shaw. Buddy the hamster also came through unscathed.

While the fire was contained to the basement at the back and the kitchen above it, most of the home suffered smoke and water damage, said Shaw, including many items that have sentimental value to her mother because she has lived in the house for 39 years.

"We are counting our blessings. This could have been a lot worse," said Shaw.

Shaw has been given an estimate of three months for the methodical processes of a fire investigation, estimates by an insurance adjustor and renovation and restoration company, and reconstruction work to be carried out.

"I thought getting ready for Christmas was stressful. I've been wavering between shock and anxiety," said Shaw.

The family is currently staying with a friend as Shaw searches for a place to stay until their home is ready for habitation again.

The firefighters' charity has helped out by replacing the presents she had got for her son.

"We're really, really grateful," said Shaw of all the help the family has received.

While she's been able to personally thank firefighters, neighbours, friends and agencies that have helped out, Shaw hasn't been able to contact Parest.

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