A young single mother is reeling after she “lost everything” in a fire earlier this week that destroyed her South Surrey home and killed the family dog.
Kate Classon said she took her son, Chase, 6, to gymnastics class at White Rock Gymnastics Monday evening and received a call from her boyfriend, shortly after 6 p.m., saying that her home – located in Hazelmere RV Park – had been completely destroyed.
“My boyfriend was the first person to get up here. He did try to get in and get the dog. He opened the door and got blasted back, like out of a movie. He went back in and pulled her out, but she had already inhaled too much smoke,” said Classon, who met Peace Arch News at the trailer with her father Dave Verhnjak on Friday.
Beside her trailer – which Classon, a four-year resident of the RV park, had only bought late last fall – Classon had installed a plastic storage shed that contained anything of sentimental value. The shed, and all its contents, is now an unrecognizable mound of melted debris.
However, when returning to the site after firefighters cleared the area, Classon said she noticed the corner of a piece of paper, buried underneath the ash and rubble.
Curious, she grabbed the note and quickly realized what it was.
“It was my pregnancy journal and the letter I wrote to my son when he was born. That’s all that’s savable out of there. Nothing else is recognizable, and I found it. Is that insanity?” Classon said.
“It’s a miracle,” her father added.
Classon said the journal and letter were wet, but that she dried them off and “you can read everything I wrote to him. Everything else is a write-off.”
Although a tragic circumstance, Classon, 30, said she’s thankful that no people were injured, and that she’s dealing with the event through positivity.
“As a single mom, I worked very, very hard to have something for my son and I. Financially, this is devastating. Aside from our dog, it’s just things. I’ve experienced loss of someone I love, I know that this is just stuff. But financially it’s just… everything I had, I invested in this unit.”
Verhnjak said he’s “blown away” with how his daughter is handling the fire.
“She was just getting on top of stuff, you know, talking to the bank about a mortgage. She just got a really good job. I’m so proud of my daughters, she’s amazing. Everyone here loves her so much, it’s unbelievable,” Verhnjak said.
“They have watched me work my ass off,” Classon added.
Classon said she recently got a job at Granville Island Brewery, “which has helped me to get to where I’m at and they have been so supportive.”
Classon said she was told by the fire investigators that the fire may have been caused by a loose connection with the plug that connects to the trailer.
“It sent in an arc to the converter that’s inside the wall, which is what went up,” Classon said.
She said it took six minutes for the fire to completely engulf the structure.
“I literally unplugged my toaster and coffee machine that morning. The only thing running in there would have been the Wi-Fi box; the TV was plugged in but not turned on. It wasn’t drawing power or anything, the lights weren’t on. It was just a fluke accident,” she said.
Verhnjak told PAN that his daughter does not have insurance. Kyle Lundquist – Classon’s sister’s boyfriend – started a GoFundMe page to help with the financial burden.
“He’s just been amazing,” Classon said of Lundquist, who she only met one time, at Christmas.
Classon, who said she’s a very private person, says she’s thankful for all the monetary support and encouraging comments.
The GoFundMe page has raised more than $6,000 since it was created Feb. 5, however, Lundquist told PAN on Thursday that the family could use more.
Classon, however, said she isn’t the type of person to ask for help, and even received a light lecture from her grandmother for not asking for support.
The GoFundMe page to support Classon can be found here.