LONDON, ONT. -- A Syrian refugee family whose brand new restaurant was destroyed by fire is expressing gratitude, as online fundraisers are helping them to rebuild.

But it’s been an emotional roller coaster ride as of late for Rasool Alabrach, his wife Faekah, and their five children.

“Very nerve-wracking. It’s very challenging in terms of the emotion,” said Alabrach with the help from community faith leader Abd Alfatah Twakkal.

The family came to Canada four years ago after fleeing war-torn Syria.

Less than two weeks ago, on July 17, they opened their new takeout restaurant, Damascus House, at Commissioners Road West and Andover Drive. It had been a dream come true.

But just days later, on July 22, an accidental kitchen fire ripped through the business, devastaing the family.

With Twakkal acting as his intepreter, Alabrach described his emotions that day.

“He’s saying that he lost everything. He’s saying that everything is over, done, and that he lost everything. Those are the thoughts that were running through his mind.”

Fire officials estimated the damage at $75,000, not including the thousands of dollars of food that had to be thrown out, and damage to equipment.

Insurance will cover some of the losses, but not everything.

After coverage on CTV News of the restaurant’s opening and the subsequent fire, a pair of online fundraisers have so far raised a combined $16,000 to help the family rebuild.

Alabrach expressed his thanks through Twakkal.

“So he said he thanks all the people that came out to support him, that he knows, that maybe does not know. To be able to come to him during this difficult time, that he’s very grateful to them all.”

But if anyone knows what the family is going through, it’s one of their closest neighbours in the west London Plaza.

Viola Gourmet had only been open for three weeks last December when a flood hit, shutting the business down.

Owner Muawia Nabhan, also a Syrian immigrant new to Canada, said the restoration took four months.

When he finally reopened the gourmet sweets shop in March, the pandemic hit. With help from Twakkal he said he could relate to his friend Rasool Alabrach’s experience.

“He said that when he came and he saw what happened that he couldn’t sleep that night. He wasn’t able to sleep that night because he knows that feeling. He knows exactly what he is going through because he went through the same thing.”

In the meantime, Alabrach said if all goes well with restoration, he hopes to reopen Damascus House in four to six weeks.