Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Gimli family 'lost everything' in fire

Father, son suffer serious injuries in New Year's Day blaze

  • Print

He lost his wife to cancer three years ago and his dad months later. Now Greg Welch, 41, and his son are in hospital after a New Year's Day house fire.

A cooking fire in their Gimli rental home sent the widower and his son, Jordan, 18, to Health Sciences Centre in Winnipeg. While they recover, friends, family and strangers are trying to help them start over.

"They've had a tough go of it," Ian Tarnowski, Welch's brother-in-law, said in an interview Wednesday. Welch's wife was diagnosed with cancer in 2009 and died one month later, he said. Seven months after her death, Greg's dad had a fatal heart attack.

On New Year's Day, Greg suffered burns to his shoulder and a fracture in his neck from the fire that broke out at about 4:30 a.m. He has been upgraded to stable condition.

Jordan is in critical condition with burns to 65 per cent of his body. Jordan's sister, Jayda, 12, was not hospitalized but is scratched and bruised and is resting at her grandparents' home, said Tarnowski.

"We are trying to give this family a hand up when they need it the most," Tarnowski said in a prepared statement issued later in the day.

A fund is being set up at CIBC for donations to help the family, he said. A Welch Family Fund has also been set up at the Gimli Credit Union.

"We are looking for donations of any kind -- big or small -- from cash donations to gently used clothing to furniture or anything you can think of that you would need to start a life over again from scratch," said Tarnowski. "When you have nothing, every little bit counts."

Cash donations can be made at the Gimli CIBC branch.

"They're good people," the Welch's neighbour and landlady said through tears Wednesday. "It's another tough blow for them."

The woman, who did not want her name published, said she and her husband have been renting the 1,200-square-foot home to Welch.

When her husband woke up Tuesday, he saw a fire truck next door.

"I slipped on my housecoat and a jacket," she said.

She ran to the burning home on the acreage next door and saw Jordan's and Greg's vehicles in the yard.

She feared the worst -- that the Welches hadn't made it out of the house on time.

"It was very scary."

The police told her the two men were already taken to hospital.

"I'm relieved, and scared about what's happened to them."

The RCMP said there were nine people in the house at the time of the fire. The owner next door said she wasn't aware of other people being at the home or anything going on there that night.

She and her husband visited the father and son in hospital Tuesday night, she said.

"I walked in and Greg said sorry and Jordan said sorry," she said through sobs.

"They lost everything."

She and her husband don't care about the house. That can be replaced, she said. They're just glad everyone made it out alive.

"We got attached to them."

They've invited the now-homeless family to stay in their three-bedroom basement suite when they're released from hospital, she said.

"We told them 'You're welcome to live there as long as you want,' " their neighbour said.

The Manitoba Office of the Fire Commissioner was contacted and attended the scene. Damage estimates were not available Wednesday, but the residence sustained extensive damage, police said.

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition January 3, 2013 A5

Fact Check

Fact Check

Have you found an error, or know of something we’ve missed in one of our stories?
Please use the form below and let us know.

* Required
  • Please post the headline of the story or the title of the video with the error.

  • Please post exactly what was wrong with the story.

  • Please indicate your source for the correct information.

  • Yes


  • This will only be used to contact you if we have a question about your submission, it will not be used to identify you or be published.

  • Cancel

Having problems with the form?

Contact Us Directly
  • Print

You can comment on most stories on You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

You can comment on most stories on You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

Have Your Say

New to commenting? Check out our Frequently Asked Questions.

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscribers only. why?

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press Subscribers only. why?

The Winnipeg Free Press does not necessarily endorse any of the views posted. By submitting your comment, you agree to our Terms and Conditions. These terms were revised effective April 16, 2010.


Make text: Larger | Smaller


Trouba talks about injury and potential for Jets

View more like this

Photo Store Gallery

  • A mother goose has chosen a rather busy spot to nest her eggs- in the parking lot of St Vital Centre on a boulevard. Countless cars buzz by and people have begun to bring it food.-Goose Challenge Day 06 - May 08, 2012   (JOE BRYKSA / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS)
  • Goslings enjoy Fridays warm weather to soak up some sun and gobble some grass on Heckla Ave in Winnipeg Friday afternoon- See Bryksa’s 30 DAY goose challenge - May 18, 2012   (JOE BRYKSA / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS)

View More Gallery Photos


Are you concerned about the number of homicides so far this year?

View Results

Ads by Google