A massive fire completely destroyed a home on Waynes Road in the Stz’uminus Reserve outside Chemainus Monday morning.
Five of the six occupants were home at the time plus the family dog, but all managed to get out safely.
The initial call went out at 11:22 a.m. The Crofton and Chemainus departments responded with 12 firefighters between them and another five firefighters arrived later with the Ladysmith Fire Department ladder truck.
The fire was fully engulfed when the first firemen got to the scene.
“The whole top floor was on fire,” said Chemainus Fire Chief Al Irwin. “All the top windows had fire coming through it.”
Relatives in neighbouring houses watched in horror as the fire quickly spread, but were glad for the safety of their loved ones.
Tammy Gibson’s daughter was among those inside when the fire broke out.
“Within minutes, it’s just gone,” she observed of the house.
Homeowner William Pierre, 50, was obviously distraught as he watched the flames devour the home.
“It started in the carport,” he told the Courier. “We just all took off. We saw the smoke coming out.”
His youngest son was in town at the time, he said, but came back immediately once he heard what was happening.
The other occupants included Pierre’s wife, a daughter and her boyfriend and another son.
Other family members live close by, including George Gibson, who’s been in the same residence for 63 years. He expects to help out Pierre, his brother-in-law, and the family as required and more in the neighbourhood are likely to do all they can as well during this difficult time.
Gibson observed the fire from his deck and “it just started underneath the carport,” he added. “All of a sudden, it went ‘bang’ all over the place. She went up really fast.”
The stubborn fire kept firefighters busy for three hours from the time the call went out until they mopped up. Just a skeleton of the structure remained at the end.
“Three of the four walls had collapsed,” noted Irwin.
An excavator was then brought in to bring down the remaining section left standing and tear everything up,” he added.
Intense flame was also accompanied by thick smoke that could be seen billowing into the sky for miles.
Fortunately, neighbouring structures were far enough away from the house to give firefighters direct access to the fire. Nearby trees were also doused with water to prevent the fire from spreading.
The Ladysmith truck was helpful in finally putting the fire out. “They can get above and shoot straight down in,” explained Irwin.
As for the cause, “because it’s on reserve, it’ll go to the RCMP,” Irwin noted. “Now, it’s going to be hard to find anything.”
Chemainus Road was closed in both directions for the full three hours at the site while a hose was connected from the hydrant across the road.