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'It was just an inferno': Elderly Cape Breton couple loses everything in house fire

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TOWER ROAD, N.S. -

Russell and Marie Mauger lived in their home on Tower Road for 40 years, but on Monday, they lost it in a matter of minutes.

Russell Mauger, 84, says the fire started when his wife plugged in a computer -- and sparks flew. They thought they had blown a fuse.

The couple scooped up their dog and got out just in time.

"When I opened the basement door, it was just an inferno,” Russell Mauger said. "The flames were coming over my head -- it was that quick -- and the whole stairs came down. If we had been upstairs, we would never in the world [have gotten] down."

Fire crews say the home was fully engulfed when they were called just after 9 a.m.

"Very lucky to have the occupants that were in it out of there, that they made it out on their own,” said Terry Jewells of the Tower Road Volunteer Fire Department. "They were in shock, and they're still in shock, which is understandable. Both of the occupants are in their 80s, and it's pretty hard to take, especially at this time of year with Christmas."

Just a few hours after the fire broke out, what was left of the home was demolished.

Nearly all of the couple’s belongings were lost. They escaped with little else but the clothes on their backs.

One of the few things they did get out was a charred wallet with some cash still inside.

“I had savings. I was saving it and putting it in the freezer,” said Marie Mauger.

The couple said they plan to stay with neighbours for now. Everyone on the ground agreed that the main thing was that they got out alive.

"If it had have been earlier in the morning, it could have been a different scenario,” Jewells said. “But we'll take the scenario we got and be blessed with it."

There's no word yet on a fundraiser, or whether one will be started to help support the newly displaced couple.

Fire crews say the official cause of the fire is still unknown.

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