Even as a crew of volunteers stripped the inside of his fire-damaged home and cleared the surrounding property Wednesday, Bill Connor couldn't believe what was happening.
"I'm kind of overwhelmed," he said, as an excavator picked up one of his old cars.
Connor's Abbotsford home, where the 88-year-old lived with his wife, Annie, 86, and son John, caught fire on the morning of Nov. 11 as the family was out for their daily coffee.
When they returned, the house was in flames and firefighters were already on scene. The fire had started in the chimney.
The family had no insurance - they couldn't afford to make the repairs necessary to qualify - and their house wasn't livable.
They were devastated and unsure what to do next.
"We lost a lot of stuff in there," John said.
In the week and a half since their story came out, a lot has happened.
The Abbotsford Firefighters Charitable Society and the Abbotsford Police Union stepped in a few days after the fire to help organize the many generous offers of help for the family.
Within three days, they had everything they needed to rebuild the modest two-bedroom house.
"It is always a little humbling to see this many community people come together so quickly," said firefighter Craig Bird, who is one of the organizers. "It definitely restores your faith in humanity. The outpouring is staggering."
Abbotsford police Sgt. Judy Dizy, Bird's wife, has been fielding calls from the public and echoed Bird's feelings.
"The surrounding community and people in it have donated all this," she said. "It's just amazing. The community response is always breathtaking, just unbelievably overwhelming."
From drywall, flooring, plumbing and electrical, to appliances and furnishings, everything is donated.
Firefighters and police officers who volunteer in their spare time, along with contractors who have donated their services, will take care of the rebuild.
A trust fund set up for the family will be left untouched during reconstruction.
"Really, it's just everybody working together," said Const. Paul Walker, who contacted the family soon after the fire to offer his assistance.
"I wouldn't want my parents to go through this. I don't think anybody would."
On Wednesday, a crew began gutting the house, which will be taken down to the studs and plywood floors, rebuilt inside, and cleaning up outside in preparation for a new gravel driveway.
A new roof will eventually be put on and landscaping will take place after the work is finished. The goal is to have the house ready for Christmas.
"There'll be a few surprises," Walker said, grinning.
Kulbir Grewal was one of the firefighters who battled the blaze at the Connors' house and he returned Wednesday in between night shifts to help out.
"We never get to see the people and talk to them and see what kind of effect it's had," Grewal said.
"The support that the community has given us is unbelievable."
Bill and John were at the house Wednesday to help clean up in preparation for all the work to be done.
Both men were surprised at the events of the past week. "He's the kind of guy who doesn't believe in stuff getting done for nothing," John said of his dad.
"No one's ever really helped me do anything," he said. "I've worked all my life for anything I ever got, you know."
Both men were very grateful their family will have a fresh start.
"We won't be able to thank the people enough," John said.
? Anyone wishing to make a donation can call Dizy at 604835-1316.