A family lost everything in their Maple Ridge home to a fire on Valentine’s Day, but the father of the house says it might have been worse if not for his young son.
“I credit my son for making me realize fire protection is a serious thing,” said Steven, who is now residing in a local hotel with his family, and living out of bags of new clothes.
He and his wife, their two boys and a guest, were all sleeping at the house when a smoke alarm went off at about 4:30 a.m. on Feb. 14.
Finding the blaze, Steven had thoughts of fighting the fire himself, but the situation soon became dangerous. He had to get everyone out quickly.
His wife grabbed jackets for the family, but they didn’t have time to put shoes on. Steven had no pants.
“Within 10 seconds of us being up, we had to get out of the house,” he said.
Soon there were 41 firefighters battling a blaze at their house at 117th Avenue and Morris Street.
Thinking about it afterward, it was a fire preparedness presentation by Maple Ridge Fire and Rescue at school that got his his eight-year-old son Aaron talking about the topic.
“He was energized by it,” Steven said.
Soon they were going through Aaron’s fire preparedness checklist, and replacing smoke alarm batteries. It was a smoke alarm that woke the household.
The fire could have been tragic, said Steven, if Aaron hadn’t been so inspired by a firefighter’s school visit.
“He’s a fantastic kid. We’re very lucky. We all got out alive.”
Steven was also thankful for the neighbours who appeared on the scene that night.
“They took my family in, and got us coffee,” he said.
The neighbours also found them some shoes, and Steve a pair of track pants.
The family went shopping for something to wear the next day, and he was again humbled when the manager gave them shoes and clothes.
“There are solid people in this community. I’m blown away by the giving,” he said.
The family is not yet sure the extent of the damage, but they will be out of their house for a long time. Deputy Fire Chief Michael Van Dop said the room of origin was completely burned out, and there is smoke and water damage throughout the building.
Van Dop said the cause of the fire is not yet confirmed, but it appears to be accidental.
“We’ve lost pretty much everything,” said Steve. “It’s about putting things back together now.”
And, it’s about being thankful for what they have, he said, and for his youngest son getting them ready for just such an emergency.
“He should be proud. He’s an awesome kid.”
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