Jeff Green | Aug 05, 2020

Dave Whalen and Kathleen White escaped with the clothes on their back, a small tablet computer and their dogs when a lightning strike on a tree next to their home on Eagle Lake set off a chain reaction resulting in a fire that destroyed the building in minutes.

The fire happened in the middle of the night, or early in the morning, on July 17.

“The lightning hit the tree with a crack, and the electricity spread through the roots of the tree to the power supply to our invisible dog fence and started a fire under the cedar deck at the house,” Dave. “The investigators are certain that is how it happened”

Dave and Kathleen were in bed, but they were awake already because the dogs were scared of the thunder storm and had woken them.

“Kathleen smelled the smoke before the alarm even went off and she looked out the window and saw that the building was on fire,” he added.

The bedroom was right next to the front door so they grabbed the dogs and left the building in seconds.

We called 911 and I have to say that the volunteer fire crews were there very, very quickly, but still all they could do is prevent the fire from spreading to other properties,” said Dave.

The couple stayed on the property in their fifth wheeler for a few days.

“Those days were pretty rough. We had no clothes, we had nothing. But people kept showing up with stuff. Somebody just dropped by a bag of clothes, and left. Didn’t leave a note or anything. It was amazing how many people came through for us.”

They have moved to a campground near Kingston for the time being and should have a place lined up to live in during the coming winter.

At the same time, they are very keen to start re-building. The insurance adjuster arrived on the day of the fire, and the lot will be cleared and prepared to rebuild.

“We are looking to find a builder who is ready to start right away. If it was up to me, we would start building today, but I don’t know how busy the builders are,” Dave said. “Mainly we feel really lucky to have had so much support. We don’t really need anything right now.”

Support local
independant journalism by becoming a patron of the Frontenac News.