A family with eight children escaped their burning home in Nanaimo last night.
Nanaimo Fire Rescue responded from four fire halls to the burning house in the 100 block of Doric Avenue in Harewood at about 8:30 p.m. Tuesday, May 17.
Geoff Whiting, Nanaimo Fire Rescue assistant chief of operations, said the house was ablaze when firefighters got to the scene.
“All four stations were assigned to it,” Whiting said. “Engine 1 had been out on a medical call, so they were already out and arrived very quickly, within a couple minutes. They found heavy fire on arrival, which also was affecting a couple cars and a travel trailer in the driveway. Everyone had self-evacuated.”
Whiting said one person was taken to hospital to be checked over for smoke inhalation and other occupants were also checked over at hospital as a precaution.
Firefighters attacked the fire from the exterior of the house to knock the fire down quickly and then proceeded to work to snuff out the blaze that had worked its way into the interior of the structure.
“There was a concern of exposure to a neighbouring house, but they managed to prevent any spread of the fire to the neighbouring house with the quick attack, so that was good,” Whiting said.
Whiting said 13 people were displaced by the fire and a pet cat was unaccounted for Tuesday night.
A man, who asked to be identified only as the family’s grandfather, and an 18-year-old youth were at the house Wednesday morning. The grandfather said it was the youth who discovered the fire.
“He looked out the side door of the house and saw a wall of flame,” the grandfather said. “In his panic, fortunately, he slammed the door and started yelling.”
He then ran through the house and made sure the other six children – who range in age from 2 to 12 – who were in the home at the time got out safely. The parents who were also home at the time exited the house with the youngest children .
The 18-year-old ran back into the house to make sure the two remaining older children had escaped. They had fled out the back of the house into the back yard.
“The neighbourhood was terrific…” the grandfather said. “After I got here the neighbours were showing up with bags and with used clothing to help out because the kids were all in their PJs.”
The home is a rental and the grandfather did not know if the family has tenants’ insurance. He said his daughter had just made an offer to purchase a house earlier on the day of the fire.
Nanaimo Fire Rescue investigators were starting work to determine the origin of the fire today, May 18.