STU student displaced by Boxing Day fire

When Jake Rose woke up at 3:30 a.m. on Boxing Day, he thought he heard his mother, Lise, fall down the stairs.

He got up to see if she was alright and found his ceiling on fire.

Pushing through burning debris, he found his mother, who was standing in the corner in shock, unsure of how to react to her home in flames.

“I just grabbed Mom and took off,” he said.

On the way out, Rose and his mother tumbled down the stairs. He broke his foot and she hurt her elbow and leg.

But they got out alive and to Rose, a first-year student at St. Thomas University, that’s the most important thing.

“She doesn’t remember much about what happened because she was just in shock,” Rose said about his mother.

“I’m happy that she doesn’t remember much of it because that was a terrible thing that we had to go through.”

After the fire, some labelled Rose a hero for bringing his mother out of the burning home. But he doesn’t like the hero label. To him, it was just natural.

“It was kind of just a hurry-up-and-get-out type of thing. I didn’t really think much at the time. It seemed like common sense at the time.

“It didn’t seem normal to just stand there and do nothing, especially considering [the fire] was huge.

“I did it to save her, not to be a hero.”

The family’s Gagetown home burned to the ground and the Rose family lost everything, including their Christmas presents, in the process. Rose said the fire began in the chimney.

A bulldozer was scheduled to pick up the debris on Monday, the first step toward the family rebuilding their home and their lives.

The family spent the rest of the holidays in the Oromocto Days Inn and will remain there until they find a more permanent place to stay.

“It was definitely not the way I intended to spend Boxing Day,” he said.

“It’s been interesting trying to go about business as usual…it’s just trying to pick up where we left off.”

Rose appreciates all the support his family has received since the fire. Fundraisers in Gagetown, a village of slightly more than 700 people, have raised about $6,000 for the Rose family.

“I know everyone in Gagetown, it’s a small community. You just don’t expect people to be so charitable and nice to you until the situation actually comes. It was a surprise to find out how many people were actually so generous.”

Dean of students Larry Batt has also offered the university’s support to Rose, something the 18-year-old said he really appreciates.

“It was very generous of him. I never expected the university to get involved.”

In an email, Batt said the university would be offering the same level of support offered to students left homeless by a downtown fire in November.

Those students were offered bursaries, a free residence room and a meal plan, among other things, to help them get back on their feet.

Rose said there isn’t anything specific he needs if the community wants to help, but he’ll accept anything someone offers him.

“The only thing I really want are my books and my necessities.”

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