A Winnipeg woman lost the majority of her belongings in a fire Sunday night, just months after cancelling her home insurance because of coronavirus shutdowns.
Maria Hrabarchuk had just finished putting up Christmas decorations when she said she heard noises coming her furnace room. When she went downstairs to check it out, she saw flames and immediately gathered her two teenage boys, cats and rabbit before escaping uninjured.
Her College Avenue home is significantly damaged and most of the contents inside are lost.
“That’s what everybody thinks, ‘It’s not going to happen to me,” Hrabarchuk said.
The single mother said she was laid off during the first round of Manitoba’s shutdowns because of the coronavirus pandemic last spring.
It was at that time Hrabarchuk said she received a letter from her insurance provider, notifying her that it was time to renew her home insurance.
Hrabarchuk said she couldn’t afford to keep paying for insurance so she ignored the letter and the payments stopped.
“Insurance or feed my teenagers,” she said. “I rolled the dice and I lost … I even went back to work and I couldn’t catch up.”
Hrabarchuk is now staying with her mother while she figures out what to do next.
Her recently-decorated Christmas tree is still standing but she said she can’t afford to put gifts underneath it this year.
“I think I’m still numb,” she said. “I don’t know how to feel.”
The single mother said she is just grateful to still have a job and that no was injured in the fire.
The Winnipeg Fire Paramedic Service said the cause of the fire is under investigation and a damage estimate is not available.
A neighbour setup a GoFundMe page for the family.
A Winnipeg man named Gord told 680CJOB said he would like to pay Hrabarchuk’s house insurance for one year.
“This way, after everything is done, everything is back to normal for her … she would be covered, and she would have that insurance to be able to be in her home knowing everything is safe moving forward.”