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GoFundMe launched after fire destroys home in Ucluelet

A Ucluelet couple and their dog lost their home to a house fire on Friday
A Ucluelet couple and their dog lost their home to a fire in the early morning hours on Friday. All three escaped unharmed, but the house was destroyed and a GoFundMe has been set up as the West Coast rallies to support them. (Rick Geddes photo)

A Ucluelet couple and their dog lost their home to a house fire on Friday.

Ucluelet’s Fire Chief Rick Geddes told the Westerly News that the Ucluelet Volunteer Fire Brigade were called to the scene at 5:02 a.m. and he was the first to arrive at the blaze at 5:10 a.m. with his team arriving less than a minute after that.

He said the two-storey home’s carport was “fully involved” when he arrived and the flames had extended into the house.

He added homes are close together in the neighbourhood where the fire occurred so concern was high that it could spread.

“There were houses very close on all three sides. Once we established that no one was in the house, the next biggest concern was protecting the neighbours,” Geddes said.

“The team did a great job of keeping the fire to the structure of origin and not allowing it to spread,” he said, adding a man and woman who live in the home as well as their dog had all escaped safely outside by the time he arrived.

He added a fence on one side of the house fire roughly 10’ from a neighbouring home was “charred,” but the team’s quick response was able to keep the fire contained.

“It can spread so easily…Once that whole cedar fence goes then it’s only a matter of time before that fire’s going to spread to the neighbour’s place. They did just an amazing job to contain it,” he said. “It was a really good response…For our members to just drop everything and have such a quick response is just amazing and they really did an amazing job on scene as well of knocking that fire down. I can’t say enough about their effort.”

He said nine members from the Ucluelet brigade were joined by six members from the Tofino Volunteer Fire Department and the team was able to get the fire under control by 6:30 a.m., but the house is a “total loss.”

“They brought their ladder truck which is a huge help to us,” he said of the Tofino crew, adding the mutual aid agreement between both communities is vital.

“Both communities rely on it so heavily. Tofino has equipment that we don’t have and we have some equipment that they don’t have, but it’s also just knowing there’s a whole crew of fresh legs coming in,” he said.

“When Tofino showed up it was great to have a fresh set of legs and also their aerial apparatus was a key component in controlling this fire. Once the fire got up into the attic space, it’s really tough to put out unless you can attack it from above, which is exactly what we did. We had Tofino set up the aerial apparatus and just bomb the house from above basically and that was the deciding factor in who was going to win that battle. Without that aerial, I’m confident we could have put the fire out but it would have gone on a lot longer and the risk to the neighbourhood would have been much more significant.”

An investigation is underway to determine the cause of the fire with Geddes working with the RCMP as arson was not immediately ruled out.

“Initially, the fire was heaviest in the carport area, so that’s what we’re focusing on…We haven’t been able to determine the cause,” he said. “Every fire has to be investigated. We have a legal obligation to investigate and report what we find. Sometimes it’s just not possible to find a cause. With this one, I did my initial investigation and then also brought in the Office of the Fire Commissioner and RCMP as well for assistance with the investigation. Anytime there’s not a real obvious accidental cause, we have to look at other means…We bring the RCMP in if there’s any doubt that it’s accidental. So far there’s nothing pointing us in either direction, accidental or intentional.”

He said the displaced couple and their dog are receiving assistance from Emergency Support Services.

The community is rallying around to support their fellow locals with a GoFundMe launched on April 7 to help cover some of the costs of their losses.

“All of their possessions have been destroyed. They have also been left without a vehicle. It appears to have started in the carport and within minutes the home was engulfed,” the GoFundMe page reads. “Due to a bureaucratic mixup, unfortunately there was no insurance on his Home. He also had a beautiful Harley Davidson motorbike that had been parked for the season in the carport that was melted and turned to ash from the intense heat. The cause of the fire is unknown at this time, they were only able to get out with the clothes on their backs. Please help out and donate anything you can to help. There is a long road ahead for them and help is needed to get them back on their feet.”

Anyone interested in supporting the fundraising efforts is encouraged to visit the GoFundMe page entitled Help Ukee local Ryan Evans rebuild his home and life.

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Andrew Bailey

About the Author: Andrew Bailey

I arrived at the Westerly News as a reporter and photographer in January 2012.
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