Fire levels North Shore family’s home

Flames destroyed a family
Flames destroyed a family's home east of Nelson on Thursday morning.
— image credit: photo submitted

A family has been left with nothing after a Thursday morning fire east of Nelson destroyed their home.

Jeanine and Harold Koeltgen and their 11-year-old daughter Ava escaped the blaze unharmed, but lost everything in the fire.

“Ava woke up at five past six this morning and she saw a red glow outside her window and sparks flying,” Jeanine Koeltgen’s mother Viola Wierda told the Star. “She woke up her parents and they just had time to run out the door with whatever they were wearing. The house is all gone, it burned very quickly.

“They are lucky they got out.”

The family was also able to escape with their two dogs and a rabbit, but they have not been able to locate their kitten.

The fire took place on Whitewick Road, seven kilometres west of Balfour. The house is believed to be 25 years old and burned to the ground. The Star is still awaiting a return call from the Balfour Volunteer Fire Department.

“They are still in shock really, all of a sudden you have nothing,” Wierda said. “They have had lots of offers of help from the community and that has been really comforting to them.”

The family is insured, but at this point have no place to live. There are initiatives underway to help the family, but firm details have not been nailed down. If you would like to help the family, friends suggest joining the Facebook group at for the latest on ways to help.

Harold Koeltgen works for the City of Nelson and currently drives bus.


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