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2014-01-05 at 11:49

Helping hand

By Jodi Lundmark,
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Karina Long was at a loss as she watched her house burn to the ground on Dec. 8.

Her Dawson Road home was destroyed in the blaze and while no one was injured, her family lost everything their home, including the Thunder Bay musician's instruments.

"Having lost the guitar, I found I was lost because that's what I turn to in a lot of difficult moments," Long said Monday.

When Canadian country music star Aaron Pritchett heard of Long's situation, he donated one of his guitars - a Gibson Epiphone electric acoustic guitar.

"It brings me a lot of happiness and a lot of peace," said Long. "When my house had gone on fire and I lost all the instruments and all of my music, there was a big part of me that I felt I left back in that home and that was very hard to deal with."

One the day of the fire, Long was wrapping presents on the third story of her home. Her husband and child were out playing hockey. She thought she could smell something burning. She checked the basement and didn't see anything. The smell persisted and she checked the basement again and still didn't notice anything amiss.

She went to check a third time and that's when the fire alarm sounded.

Long said if it wasn't for the fire alarm, she wouldn't have made it out of the house.

"By the time I got downstairs and realized there was something more serious going on, I had opened the basement doors and that's when the flames shot up at me. I knew I had to get out," she said.

Long phoned 911, grabbed the family pets and stood outside to wait for the fire trucks as her house became completely engulfed in flames.

"Even at that time, I knew it was too late because as I was standing there, I saw one of the balconies just drop to the ground," she said.

As a country singer-songwriter, Long frequently travels to Nashville to co-write songs and enter songwriting competitions. She has also attended the Canadian Country Music Awards for the past 12 years and that's where she met Pritchett, a CCMA winner.

After the fire, Long's niece contacted Pritchett's management to see if the singer could help her aunt.

And they responded.

"Aaron is a phenomenal musician. He's a great writer. He's a great performer. To have a guitar come from him is just out of this world for me right now. It means a lot," said Long.

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