A fast-burning fire near Bentley last week robbed an elderly woman of her deceased husband’s daily diaries, which dated back to the 1960s.
Marie Liner, who has lived on the same quarter of land between Rimbey, Bentley and Eckville for 65 years, lost her mobile home in the blaze on Thursday.
Those items insurance can’t replace also include family photos, keepsakes from grandkids and even a collection of mice.
“It was devastating. We just couldn’t believe that it really happened,” said Marie’s daughter-in-law, Linda. “Basically it’s sitting here, just a big pile of black rubble, and there’s nothing we can do until (fire investigators) finish all their checking. It’ll be nice to find out what happened, not that it matters anymore.”
Linda was the one who discovered the fire. She was the only member of the family who was home on Thursday when she noticed “shadows rolling across the grass” outside and went to the backdoor of the farmhouse to find Marie’s mobile home — which sits in the yard — in smoke and flames.
By the time firefighters from Eckville arrived about a half-hour later, with additional support coming from Bentley and Rimbey, the mobile was fully engulfed.
Fortunately, Marie was in a Bentley restaurant for brunch at the time. According to Linda, she saw fire trucks barrel through town and noticed a volunteer firefighter in the restaurant respond to his beeper, but chalked it all up to another local grass fire.
It wasn’t until grandson Kevin, a 17-year-old senior at Bentley High School, called and picked her up that Marie learned the truth. By the time they got to the farm, her home was completely destroyed.
“She loved (her mobile). She had it set up just perfect for her,” said Linda.
Linda says her mother-in-law is tough, independent and will eventually be fine. But for now, she’s living with Linda, husband Gordon and son Kevin. Marie wants to live on her own, however, and the family will be looking at providing her with another home in the yard.
The cause of the fire hasn’t been determined, although investigators from Lacombe Regional Fire Service are on the case.
Linda is thankful there was someone home on Thursday. Because of the dry conditions and proximity of buildings on the lot, she says they would have likely lost their house, the barn and a machine shed had the blaze gone unnoticed. In fact, Gordon was out with a hose long after the firefighters left, putting out smouldering spots.