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  • Writer's pictureESSEX FREE PRESS

Family of Talbot house fire grateful for community support - Family pet bunny survived

by Sylene Argent

Photos submitted by the Hayes Family

After experiencing a devastating fire that caused an estimated damage of $650,000 to their Talbot Street South home on Friday, March 3, Luanne and Kirk Hayes are reflecting on the overwhelming support received from within the community and are grateful to have found their family pet survived.

“We live in the best place on this whole planet,” Luanne said. “I would not want to live anywhere else but Essex.”

Several organizations, including the Essex Legion, the Essex Salvation Army, Holy Name of Jesus Church, the Essex County Goodfellows, and the Knights of Columbus (3305), have all reached out to provide help where they can.

“When I pulled up, there were not any gawkers there. There were a lot of people, but everybody in the community was helping and supportive and sticking stuff in our pockets. Everyone there was in a caring capacity. It was amazing,” Kirk said.

The beauty of the story, Kirk said, is that they are in such good care, they are not in need of anything as of right now. Last week, the family was displaced in a hotel with little room to store items. In addition, they have been given many gift cards to help them get through this tough time.

“Due to the size and compassion of our families, we are literally overwhelmed,” Kirk said. Once they have their own space, they may find they have some needs in the future, and will be sure to let those within the community eager to help, know.

A miracle to come out of the situation was to find their pet bunny survived.

“That changed everything,” Luanne said. “It puts it in perspective.

The Hayes family adopted their furry bunny friend, Bruno, from the Windsor-Essex County Humane Society years ago and he has very much been a part of the family since they first brought him home.

“We treated him like a dog,” Kirk said of their rabbit, noting Bruno is an inside/outside pet, who has the run of the yard as he pleases. Because of his presence, he is popular around the block. On the day of the fire, his family was devastated to think the worse, but presumed he passed.

Kirk said when workers arrived the next day to fence off the home and the Fire Marshal came for an inspection, they asked for them to keep an eye out for any signs of their rabbit. When the Fire Marshal shone light in the area the family assumed he would be, there was movement.

“The rabbit must have heard my voice and came out from his hiding spot,” Kirk said, noting everyone was ecstatic to learn Bruno survived the fire.

“The rabbit is completely healthy. His whiskers are fine. Everything is fine. Somehow or another, he stayed low to the ground and survived, thanks to the fire department and police and everybody who gave him a fighting chance.”

He said his daughter works at an animal hospital, and they kept him for a few nights to ensure he was okay.

In addition to reuniting with their beloved bunny, they were able to recover a jump-drive containing around 15-years of memories, and personal documents and identification, which they were relieved to have.

“The tears were coming down. I was so thankful for every little picture,” she said.

The yellow house is a landmark in Essex, Luanne said, noting as far as she knows it has been around for over 100-years.

“People are so sad about it,” Luanne said of their landmark home being destroyed. The family is, however, grateful to every person who showed kindness in their time of need, including from the local organizations, firefighters, and local businesses who stepped up in some way.

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