For a father and two daughters who were burned out of their home on Friday night, Maple Ridge’s girls hockey community feels like family.
Dalla Hellier, 15, was at home alone, in a townhouse at Stonehouse Estates off the Haney Bypass, when the fire started at about 5:15 p.m.
Her father Jason and sister Delainey, 12, were both out. Dalla was having a shower when the fire alarm went off.
She headed downstairs and was confronted by a thick wall of smoke, through which she could see the orange glow of flames.
Dalla ran upstairs, got dressed, and got out of the burning building.
She tried to call out the pets, but the only one who would come to her was Rascal – the pug who dogs the heels of family members wherever they go in the house.
“He’ll follow you around all day – his annoyance saved him,” said Jason.
But Lulu the bulldog and their 15-year-old cat Tom wouldn’t come out and perished in the fire.
The family home was destroyed. Two bedrooms had closed doors and may have some things that might be salvaged, but everything else was lost, including a painting done by a family member.
Black ash covers the walls and all the contents. Siding on the back of the house is dripping off. Windows blew out from the intense heat.
“It’s unreal to go through it, and think ‘that was our home,’” said Jason.
The townhouse will be rebuilt, but could take up to a year before the family moves back in.
Investigators found the fire started by a tipped-over lamp, which likely ignited a chair cover.
The cat used to groom his big body in the corner near that light.
Shannon Spencer’s daughter plays on the same bantam hockey team as Delainey. The Spencers have started collecting donations for the Hellier family, including school supplies for the girls, and a $200 gift card at Target so they could buy some essentials.
“It’s completely overwhelming,” said Spencer. “They’ve lost everything. And it’s so close to Christmas.”
Terry Passley, president of the Meadow Ridge Female Minor Hockey Association, said all eight local girls teams are working on ways to help the family.
“At Christmas, this is never easy on a family,” said Passley. “Someone’s got to reach out and give them a hand, and the minor hockey community is pretty tight.”
He is asking people – especially hockey parents – to donate $20 to $50 to help the Helliers have a good Christmas.
An account has been opened under the Hellier family name at the Scotiabank in Pitt Meadows, with the number 83030-00252-16.
Delainey learned to play in Hardisty, Alta, a town of 750 people, where there was one team for boys and girls. Jason worked as a oil patch millwright, and a former junior A goalie.
He still plays hockey and encouraged Delainey to try the all-girls association when they moved to Maple Ridge in 2011.
“She’s fallen in love with it,” he said. “It’s the camaraderie they get in the dressing room with a bunch of girls.”
But he’s not thinking about hockey much right now. He just wants to get organized and give his girls a good Christmas. For starters, all of their Christmas decorations have to be replaced.
“We have to pick up the pieces,” he said.
The Barracudas have helped a lot.
“I’m so appreciative of what they’ve done,” he added.
“This is the only family we’ve got. They’ve all stepped up, and it’s just unreal.”