Vancouver Island man who lost his home to a fire says it was caused by a cosmetic mirror

Wayne Trenholm wants to warn others of the danger

Wayne Trenholm lost his home to a fire Oct. 13.

He knows how it started, and the Comox Valley resident wants to warn others of the danger.

Trenholm said the fire in his trailer home on Arnett Road, just outside Courtenay, was caused by a cosmetic mirror left on the window sill.

The mirror reflected the sunshine coming through the window and started a fire in his closet.

The fire quickly spread and by the time the Courtenay Fire Department arrived, his trailer was fully engulfed.

“A typical make-up mirror – normal one side, magnified the other side – was sitting approximately three feet away from my clothes,” he said, looking over the charred remains of his trailer. “That is exactly where the fire started, so this is it. The sun reflected off the mirror and acted like a magnifying glass.”

Trenholm said a friend of his had the same experience last year.

“My friend Mark… he told me a year ago him and Donna, they smelled smoke in their house, and found their couch on fire. It was from her make-up mirror,” said Trenholm. “Lucky for them, they were home at the time and they were able to put it out. I wasn’t home, and I lost everything.”

He said he is hoping his misfortune can serve as a pre-emptive lesson for other people out there, as to how easily fires can start.

A Google search of “Fire caused by mirrors” produced countless similar stories, as well as YouTube videos showing how quickly such fires can ignite.

“So this is what your place can look like if you keep mirrors close to your windows,” he said, before becoming emotional. “I lost my history – my whole history. Every picture from the time I was nine years old was in there. When I think about that, it really gets to me. The other stuff… the TVs, hunting gear, that’s no big deal. But the sentimental stuff… you can’t replace that.”

Trenholm has been overwhelmed with the support he has received from the community since losing his home.

“My neighbour Jesse [Harris] has helped so much, with trying to get a roof over my head again. And Sandy [Kurceba] from the Comox Golf Course, he’s helped out tons,” said Trenholm. “He sent out a memo to all the members and they got me piles of clothes and even bought me this RV that I will be able to live in.”

He also thanked the Courtenay Travelodge for allowing him to bring his two dogs with him when he stayed there for a couple of days after the fire.

“I was going to sleep in one of the [sheds] out here … I couldn’t leave my dogs behind. So that was really good of them.”

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