A Penticton family has been on an emotional roller coaster after dealing with a fire, a new child and a break-in within three days of each other.
Kyle and Jess Stewart, the owners of Soda Creek Soap Co., were forced to leave their home after a fire broke out in a connecting unit on Burns Street.
“We saw the black smoke coming out the windows and then tons of firefighters arrived on scene,” said Kyle. “They got on top of it really quickly and got it under control.”
Although their own unit didn’t suffer any direct fire damage, there was plenty of smoke damage and that meant the family couldn’t stay until it was cleaned up. That included tossing out all of the contaminated baby clothes they had, all their other clothing and any damaged furniture.
Emergency Support Services helped put the family up in a hotel, and Kyle began the work of clearing out the contaminated contents of their home.
Then, three days after the fire, Jess went into labour and the family welcomed little William to the world.
“Luckily my parents were already planning on coming out, so we decided to rent an AirBnB with them, basically,” Kyle said. “Then the night we got into it, Jess’ water broke and we went to the hospital at like 1:45 in the morning, then William joined us, which is awesome. We’re stoked about that.”
Unfortunately, when Kyle went back to their home the next day to continue the hard work of emptying out the damaged clothing and furniture, he found the heartbreaking signs of a break-in.
“The side door must have been pried open and then they came in and took everything basically that they could carry,” said Stewart. “Luckily we kept most of our appliances, as far as I know, but they took the tv off the wall, gaming systems, collectibles. It’s like kicking a guy while he’s down.”
Although the family wasn’t willing to go public with their story after the fire, with their focus on their new baby, the break-in made the decision for them.
Doug Drouin, a local photographer and friend of the family, set up a GoFundMe for the Stewarts and also a personal campaign where he’d donate the booking fees for photography sessions to the family.
The Soda Creek Soap Co. website has also been flooded with orders on top of the rush for the holiday season.
“It’s been crazy the amount of support that we’ve seen already,” said Stewart. “I’m gonna have to get back to the shop so I can start filling those orders and getting them out to everybody before Christmas.”
In addition to the GoFundMe and photography sessions with Drouin, Stewart and Soda Creek Soap Co. will be out at Christmas markets in the valley for people who want to pick up some gifts.
More announcements about what’s next will be shared on the Soad Creek Soap. Co Facebook page.
“We’ve got each other, we’re happy, we’re healthy. We’ve still got the business. We’ve got what we’ve just been shown recently, an amazing community that we live in,” said Stewart. “How much, how much you can ask for?”