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Severe damage in blaze

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A large blaze believed to have started with an overheated vehicle has caused extensive damage to a home north of Brockville.

The fire at the 6030 County Road 29 home of Bob and Rosemary Tye appears to have left in its wake a near-total loss.

“There's severe smoke damage upstairs,” said Bob Tye, adding everything in the basement of the home was “toast.”

The Tyes have lived in the home for 42 years and currently share it with their 16-year-old granddaughter and her boyfriend.

It was their granddaughter who first noticed a burning smell, the couple said, initially thinking it might have been coming from her laptop. Once everyone in the house was up, it didn't take long to determine the source of the smell.

Bob Tye said he opened the door to the garage and had to immediately shut it due to the heat and smoke.

“Within two minutes, both overhead doors were burnt,” he said.

Elizabethtown-Kitley fire chief Jim Donovan said the fire is believed to have originated in one of the vehicles parked in the garage, which one the residents had been driving a short time earlier.

With Friday's massive snowstorm making driving difficult, Donovan said the effort to get into the driveway may have overheated the vehicle.

In total, the fire department deployed four tankers, two pumpers and 28 firefighters to battle the blaze, said Donovan, adding they were there until approximately 8:30 a.m.

Much of the additional space the couple has added over the years to the single-level house was affected by the blaze, said Donovan. He said it is a testament to the work of his crew that anything was salvaged due to how quickly the fire spread.

In addition, said Donovan, with the poor road conditions factored in, he didn't think anything would be saved when he first arrived.

The couple has insurance and intends to rebuild. And neither is letting the strife get them down as they deal with the losses.

The couple listed several things that can be recovered from the house, including a cherished ornament of Rosemary's – a gift from her husband she says has  considerable sentimental value – their three cats and other mementos such as family photos.

“Everything that's damaged can be replaced,” said Bob.

One of their cats survived the blaze, after the couple and firefighters had tried to get it out to no avail. The Tyes came back to the house Monday and eventually found it alive and well.

“We thought the smoke would've got her,” said Rosemary, who said it was emotional to find their pet safe and sound.

The financial damage on the house is unknown at this point. In the meantime, the family is looking for a short-term, two-bedroom rental somewhere in the local area.

The couple wish to thank all those who have helped them in the aftermath of the fire.

“Neighbours have been great, and the fire department and the paramedics,” said Bob, noting    Donovan spent multiple hours on scene and even returned Saturday when Bob feared the blaze may have reignited.

It turned out to be steam from the sun melting snow and ice off a corner of the roof, but Bob said the couple appreciated Donovan’s swift response.

As they pore over everything, both said they are grateful that everyone made it out safely and that they didn't lose some of their most cherished possessions.

“It could've been worse,” said Bob.

Rosemary shared similar thoughts.

“There's so many things to be grateful for,” she said.

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