What Patricia Feeny remembers most about her cousin Amberlee Scarr was her laugh and smile.
“She’d come to any family function — usually late, anyone in the family could attest to that. Amber ran on her own time,” Feeny said. “But once she was there, she lit up the room. She would come in and then just be that happy-go-lucky girl, full of memories.”
Scarr passed away in a Nanaimo house fire on Oct. 10, along with her seven-year-old daughter Piper and Piper’s father Jason Stephenson. On Friday, Oct. 13, the fire investigation found the fatal blaze was likely caused by unattended candles.
“We’re just so shocked,” Feeny said. “It was a tragic accident that we now find out was considered an accident with the candles.
“I think if we can get a message out there it’s that … a small little candle has ruined the lives of so many people,” she added
Scarr grew up in North Delta, living with her cousins as though they were siblings.
“You knew when she was in the room, that’s for sure,” Feeny said.
“She was such a free loving spirit. Always took time for anybody who needed time.
“Of course, she had her own struggles,” she added, “but that never got in the way of her family or helping anyone in need.”
Feeny didn’t know seven-year-old Piper, who also passed away in the fire, very well. But looking at pictures and hearing stories, “it’s like looking back at Amber when she was that age.”
“To me when I look at some pictures, I’m confused,” Feeny said. “Is it Amber? Is it Piper? There’s a strong connection there.”
Scarr was married to Stephenson, Piper’s father who also died in the Oct. 10 fire. According to Feeny, the couple had separated, but Scarr had moved back into the house for Piper.
Scarr has two sons from a previous relationship: Benson and Adam. Feeny said the pair “are dealing with it as best they can.”
“We rally around each other, we come together,” Feeny said about the family’s response to the tragedy.
“We’re not all around in the same area … but tragic accidents like this are things that bring us together, and it’s like we’re never apart.”
Feeny and Scarr’s cousin Mercedes King started a GoFundMe page to support funeral expenses for Scarr and her daughter. The unused funds will go into a trust for Scarr’s sons.
As of Oct. 16, the page has raised $11,567 for Scarr and Piper — nearly $2,000 more than its goal. Aside from the online campaign, the family has also received donations from the Heiltsuk First Nation on Vancouver Island, where Scarr’s family is from, and the Musqueam First Nation in Vancouver.
“It’s been overwhelming, the support, and we’re so grateful,” Feeny said. “It just goes to show what kind of person Amber was that all these people have come forward and been able to offer, not only their condolences but want to contribute.”
Additional contributions to the funeral and trust fund can be made at gofundme.com/AmberandPiper.