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Film students helping animal sanctuary owners following fire

Cheryl Browne

By Cheryl Browne, Barrie Examiner

New Tecumseth firefighters battled a blaze Thursday morning at the Painted Rock Animal Sanctuary east of Tottenham. 
Paul Novosad Photo

New Tecumseth firefighters battled a blaze Thursday morning at the Painted Rock Animal Sanctuary east of Tottenham. Paul Novosad Photo

NEW TECUMSETH TWP. – Shayne Maglay has taken to dropping in at the Painted Rock Animal Farm each week to check in with the owners and the donkey he planned on using in his upcoming film.

But it wasn't until the fourth-year Humber College film student approached the farm on Thursday afternoon did he believe that the smoke he'd seen billowing up from Highway 400 was actually his point of destination.

“I thought this is impossible. Three times, as I drove closer, I was in denial,” Maglay said.

As a part-time firefighter withe King Fire & Rescue, Maglay said he helped out at the fire station while crews battled the blaze.

“When I got there later, they, Barry and Laura Cameron, were just so in shock. When I went back this (Friday) morning, just everything they've loved and worked so hard for is gone.”

On October 22, the New Tecumseth fire department received a call shortly before 11 a.m. about a house-fire on the 3rd Line.

Maglay said Laura Cameron was home alone at the time, and was doing chores in the barn when she noticed smoke coming from their century home.

“She said she heard the smoke detector going off and ran into the house. She just started throwing the animals out any windows she could,” Maglay said. “She's so selfless, she didn't grab anything for herself, she was more worried about the animals.”

The barn, holding horses, donkeys, goats, sheep, pigs, ducks was untouched, and Maglay said Cameron believes many of the cats will return to the barn after hiding in the woods overnight.

The Camerons stayed with neighbours overnight, and Maglay said strangers have been dropping off food for the animals.

New Tecumseth Fire Chief Dan Heydon has said the fire was not suspicious in nature.

Fire crews from New Tecumseth, Bradford, King and Schomberg fire stations were called to fight the fire, but because water needed to be trucked to the rural site, they were not able to save the house.

Once Maglay saw the extent of the damage, he called the director, Stanislav Roud, of the Humber film project, and advised him that not only was the site unusable, but their 20-person film crew should help out the Camerons.

Within 24-hours Roud started up a GoFundMe account (gofund.me/AnimalFarmFire) with a goal of raising $25,000 for the Camerons.

As of Friday afternoon, they had already raised $2,700.

“The house looks like a forest fire burned straight through it. It's burned straight down to the ground,” Roud said.

cheryl.browne@sunmedia.ca

Twitter.com/cherylbrowne1