Abby Jose was half awakened Friday morning to a puzzling noise — something he thought could be attributed to wind or even snow outside his rental home in Doncaster Drive.
At the same time, Nick Lacoursiere was driving to work to repair a chimney on Megaw Place – the street behind Doncaster – when he saw smoke and drove straight to the crime scene.
He called Scott Clarke, CBS colleague Masonry, who was already at Megaw Place, to warn him. “I just jumped in my truck and got burned there,” said Clarke, grabbing a neighbor’s garden hose to try to fight the fire.
It was about 8 a.m. when Lacoursiere and another man who had passed by found the front door of the burning house unlocked and went inside to issue fire warnings.
Jose, 25, heard them scream and met them in the hallway, making it to safety without any injuries.
“We just went to every door to try to open every door. One door was locked and we banged on that one,” said Lacoursiere.
It turned out that Jose was the only one of the five tenants of the rental property in the house at the time. His bedroom is on the second floor of the building with a balcony at the front. The fire raged on the outside of the house on the balcony.
Clarke said, “Once the vinyl siding started burning, the flames in the front of the house got pretty intense.”
The Saanich fire brigade was quickly on site to extinguish the fire that had established itself in the attic. Saanich’s emergency services arrived to set up accommodation for tenants for a few days if needed, as well as food and other essentials.
Tenant Adrienne Sellors, of Winnipeg, said none of the tenants had rental insurance for their belongings. The Ottawa-based owner of the home has been notified, she said.
Only one tenant has family nearby.
Sellors is staying with friends in Sooke. She was at work when she learned of the fire and booked a day off to return home to find belongings in her second floor room that had been damaged by water.
Jose’s room has no roof now, Sellors said. Jose said his belongings have smoke and water damage.
Tenant Daniel Froese, 22, has a lot of family nearby. What happened “hasn’t really started yet,” he said.
He received a text message about the fire, and as he was walking home, he saw smoke in the distance and could smell it as he reached McCrae Avenue.
“I actually just ran from there to here. By the time I got here it looked so much worse – so much more smoke.
Saanich Assistant Deputy Chief Michael Kaye said an investigator is investigating the fire. The cause is unknown at this time, but does not appear suspicious.
The fire appeared to have started on the balcony, through the siding and in the roof soffits, he said.
The home’s smoke detectors went off as the fire spread inside the building, he said.
As for the men who went into the house to warn people, Kaye said it’s not recommended to go into the fire without protective gear, but at this point the fire was completely out, so they managed to keep themselves safe.
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