ED TORZ/FOR THE SUN
The intense heat from the Sept. 16 fire that destroyed the Wilton home near Belmont melted most of the plastic structures and toys in the yard.
A Belmont-area family has quickly recovered from a devastating fire that destroyed their farm house.
Jeff and Jackie Wilton say they’ve been blessed with help from friends and family, and they’ve already bought a new home which they hope to move into by early November.
"We’ve been overwhelmed with support," Jackie Wilton said Wednesday as she provided the Brandon Sun with an update.
A fire razed the farm home just southwest of Belmont on the evening of Sept. 14.
Investigators determined that it wasn’t suspicious but, due to the extent of the damage, they weren’t able to determine the cause.
Jeff and Jackie lived at the home with their three children — a seven-year-old daughter, five-year-old son and three-year-old daughter.
RM of Strathcona firefighters arrived around 11:30 p.m. to find the house engulfed in flames, with much of the structure already collapsed.
The family’s truck was parked at the site and firefighters feared that they’d failed to escape the blaze and perished.
But — by chance — that wasn’t the case. The family had taken their van to the Manitoba Ranch Rodeo Association Finals.
Jackie is a former rodeo competitor but usually the finals are in Eriksdale and the family has been too busy to attend.
This year, they were moved closer to home, to Virden, so the Wiltons decided to go.
Around 4 p.m., they hit the road for Virden and enjoyed a pleasant evening at the rodeo.
It was only later, shortly before midnight as they were on their way home, that a fire dispatcher called their cellphone to tell them their house was on fire.
The woman asked Jeff if the family was all together, and he informed her that they were.
"She said, ‘Well, don’t rush home ... your house is on fire, and it aint good,’" Jackie said.
News that the family was OK came as relief to firefighters.
But the family arrived home around 1 a.m. to find their home of eight years levelled. The fire had destroyed the main level, but was still burning in the basement.
"The whole house was gone ... there was just flames shooting out of a hole," Jackie said.
The single-storey house had been built by her great grandparents and was estimated to be more than 80 years old.
The Wiltons don’t know what started the fire. The heat was off and nothing had been left on.
They’re just grateful to be safe and even all of their dogs are OK.
They have two dogs that lived outside and four that live indoors.
Usually, the four inside dogs are kept in the porch of the house when the family is away. But it just so happens that this time the dogs were placed in a separate milk house.
No lives were lost, but the family lost all of its furniture and belongings.
Fortunately, the home and its contents were insured and the Wiltons have already fond a new home.
They’ve bought a pre-built, ready-to-move home, and a new basement on the former site has already been built with the new home set to arrive by the end of the month.
The family will hopefully move in by the start of November.
Meanwhile, the family has been staying in the home of Jackie’s parents in Belmont.
Friends and family have brought clothing and toys for the Wilton children.
Friends also hosted a barrel racing and pole bending event which raised money to help replace belongings.
Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition October 4, 2012