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A southern Manitoba community is rallying around a family who lost their home and possessions in a devastating fire earlier this week. The house burned to the ground Monday near the Cottonwood Golf Course.

Neighbour Loni Petrowski refers to the family of five as a "lovely bunch of people." She says there are three children, with a fourth on the way. According to Petrowski, this family loved to talk about their house, referring to it as a labour of love.

Richer Fire Chief Ed Belisle says firefighters thought at first the house was built of straw bales, but it sounds as though it was actually constructed of hempcrete. The house used solar panels and authorities believe the fire started either in the battery or charging system for those panels.

"The homeowner advised RCMP on the scene that they were charging a battery in the porch area and that's where the fire started," says Belisle. "And then it spread throughout the house."

2019 01 richer house fire1(Photo credit: Richer Fire Department)

A damage estimate has not been set as the Office of the Fire Commissioner did not attend.

Petrowski says to the best of her knowledge, this family did not have insurance. She adds they are currently staying with family in St. Adolphe.

She notes a GoFundMe page has been set up for this family who lost their house and possessions.

"No one was home at the time when it did happen, so that's good," she says. "No one was injured, no animals were injured, no one was lost but I can't believe losing everything you own in the blink of an eye."

Read More:

Straw House Burns Down, Solar Power System Suspected


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