Armstrong family have lucky escape as fire destroys home | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Armstrong family have lucky escape as fire destroys home

Ginny Ritson-Bennett lost everything when her home was destroyed Dec. 27.
Image Credit: SUBMITTED: Amy Cohen

An Armstrong woman and her adult son had a lucky escape after their home was completely destroyed by fire in the middle of the night.

Ginny Ritson-Bennett and her son Darcy lost everything in the fire that razed their Armstrong home Dec. 27.

"They got out with just their pyjamas, so they have literally nothing," lifelong friend Amy Cohen told

It's unclear how the blaze started but the pair were alerted at 4 a.m. and ran to a neighbour's house to call 911.

They were later taken to hospital for smoke inhalation.

While they managed to escape, their pets weren't as lucky and their two dogs and two cats didn't survive.

"The fire spread very quickly so they didn't have a chance to grab anything at all," Cohen said.

Cohen said she'd known Ginny and Darcy all her life and believed they had lived in the house on Highland Park Road for at least 40 years.

Armstrong Spallumcheen Fire Department chief Ian Cumming said 20 firefighters were called to tackle the fire and crews were at the house for nine hours.

However, the fire spread quickly and the home was destroyed.

"One-half of the carport was still standing, the rest of the house was completely gone," Cohen said.

Cohen said Ginny lost her husband earlier this year.

"They had planned to spread her husband's ashes and those were in the house, so now those are gone," she said.

Cohen said Ginny and Darcy are staying with neighbours and are insured, but need immediate assistance.

Cohen has set up a crowdfunding page.

"I'm just trying to get them some immediate support because... they have no clothes, they have no nothing," she said. "We were all so shocked that this had happened and we just wanted to support Ginny and Darcy and make sure they're not suffering even more and that they have what they need for the meantime while they... pull their lives back together."

Cohen has been amazed by the response.

Less than 24 hours since the campaign was launched, it has already raised $4,850.

"This is a horrible thing but just the amount of support we've seen in the last 12 hours we're really overwhelmed by the community support," Cohen said.

While she knew the community looked out for each other, Cohen said the response to the fundraising campaign has been tremendous.

"I was happy and surprised to see how much support they have received already and I hope that makes this horrible thing a little easier for them," Cohen said.

The fire chief said the cause of the fire is not known but it is not deemed suspicious.

The fund raising campaign can be found here.

Ginny Ritson-Bennett two dogs were lost in the blaze.
Ginny Ritson-Bennett two dogs were lost in the blaze.
Image Credit: SUBMITTED: Amy Cohen

READ MORE: Fire shuts down Tolko's Armstrong mill

To contact a reporter for this story, email Ben Bulmer or call (250) 309-5230 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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