M’Chigeeng family loses everything in Friday night blaze

Members of the M’Chigeeng Volunteer Fire Department respond to a Friday night blaze at the Williams family home, located on the M’Chigeeng, Billings border. photo by Marilyn Harasym

M’CHIGEENG—It is thanks to a passerby, a walker headed for the General Store in M’Chigeeng on Friday night, that the Williams/Lewis family made it to safety from a fire that razed the Williams family home and saw all of the family’s possessions destroyed. The home was located at the edge of M’Chigeeng First Nation beside the West Bay General Store property. The Expositor reached Michal Williams on Monday at the home of her sister Pam Williamson in Little Current on Monday night.

The couple was at home with their son when a concerned citizen, who had been walking by the house and saw flames coming from the back porch, alerted the family inside to the fire. As the fire began on the outside of the home, smoke detectors had not yet picked up on the blaze.

“Everything’s gone,” Ms. Williams stated.

Ms. Williams noted that her husband Gord Lewis was able to grab a cell phone, tablet, and the family dogs, but nothing else. A window was left open in the hopes that their cat would escape the fire but they are still unsure if the cat made it out alive. Optimistically, sightings of an orange tabby in the area leave them hopeful and a live trap has been set up near the burned out home.

Ms. Williams said they are awaiting word from the insurance company but will be looking to rent, then hopefully build somewhere centrally located on Manitoulin. The couple’s children (a daughter, age 12, and son, age 11) attend Central Manitoulin Public School.

“It’s been very hard on them, we lost everything, and it happened so fast,” she said.

Donations and help from the Island community have been pouring in to help the family.

“We’re all good for clothes now, thank you,” Ms. Williams added.

A Facebook page and a crowdsourcing campaign on gofundme.com have also been set up to aid the family.