An Ottawa family that runs a food truck in Little Italy says the community turnout has been amazing since their home was destroyed by fire following the devastating May 21 storm.

Pat and Liz Riggins run the Riggins Family BBQ food truck on Preston Street. However, in the days following the May 21 storm, tragedy visited their Tanglewood area home.

“We had our generator going and my husband Pat’s brother Rob and his family were staying with us,” Liz Riggins told Newstalk 580 CFRA’s “CFRA Live with Andrew Pinsent” on Sunday morning. “Late at night, we turned the generator off and we lit some candles. Before going to bed, we thought that we had blown all of the candles out but I guess one of them must have relit in our garage and ended up catching the garage on fire.”

Riggins said no one was hurt but the home must be demolished and rebuilt. The Red Cross found them a hotel in the meantime.

“The community has been absolutely amazing coming to help us out,” she said.

Riggins explains that as the storm hit, they planned to use their food truck to help feed residents who lost power. The fire changed all of that.

“On Preston Street, we still had power, so we thought this was a great opportunity to provide meals for the community who had lost power,” she said. “Monday night, early Tuesday morning, our garage caught fire and that squashed our plans to support the community.”

A GoFundMe campaign started by “The Ottawa BBQ Community” is seeking to raise funds for the Riggins family.

“Pat, Liz and their four daughters are safe, but overcoming such a tragic loss is always difficult,” the fundraiser’s page says.

“We are venturing through unprecedented times as we deal with the aftermath of the storm that ripped through Ottawa over the weekend. These are when Pat and his family always stand out as community ambassadors, and now it’s our turn to help them.”

Riggins said she couldn’t believe it.

“We’re completely blown away,” she said. “Pat and I were literally brought to tears. It was such a kind gesture and having that pressure taken off our backs meant so much to us.”

This latest struggle comes after the COVID-19 pandemic forced Pat Riggins out of his job as a banquet chef at the Chateau Laurier.

“When the pandemic hit, there were no banquets, so he was left with idle time on his hands, and that’s where Riggins Family BBQ was born,” she said. “We’re a large family; we have four daughters, so we were already cooking for the masses, so we might as well cook for the rest of the community as well.”

Riggins Family BBQ reopened on Friday and has had an “amazing turnout” since then.

As of Sunday afternoon, more than $15,000 had been donated to the family to help them recover.