One of three victims of a house fire last week said they lost everything in the blaze.
Claire Evans was a tenant in a house along 228 Street, north of Dewdney Trunk Road, along with with her friend and her friend’s father, who is 81. She was in her bedroom of the single storey rancher, paying her bills online, when the fire started, on Thursday, March 17.
“It was really scary,” said Evans who had just moved to Maple Ridge from Vancouver.
Evans explained that she had borrowed money from her friend’s father and was going to tell him that she was putting that money towards the gas bill.
“And I opened my door and there was already black smoke down to my neck,” she said.
Evans yelled, “There’s a fire, get out,” to alert the 81-year-old man and ran out to the carport to see where her friend was, where she saw flames in the garage. All three structures – the garage, carport, and house – were all joined together under one roof.
The door was open in the garage, she said, and the flames were already waist high.
Evans thought her friend was trapped in the garage because he had been working on his truck in the carport that was up on jacks. However, she discovered him hunched down by the truck trying to douse the flames with a hose.
Then Evans went back into the house to find her friend’s keys and discovered, by that time, she couldn’t see anything and went straight out the front door – no shoes, no jacket.
Firefighters rushed to the residence in the 12100 block of 228 Street at about 9:15 p.m. where they discovered a house that was fully engulfed in flames.
Alex White who lives directly behind the house with his girlfriend and upstairs roommate, said the fire was big and spread quickly.
He was working in his garage when his girlfriend, who was in their backyard with their dog, heard yelling. White’s roommate then told them that he could see flames next door. So they called 911 immediately and were told that dispatchers had already received multiple calls.
“The firefighters were there within a few minutes of me making it from our garage to the deck in our backyard, so they were very fast,” said White.
Firefighters allowed Evans and the two other tenants back into the house on Monday, and she was able to grab a single tote and a trunk containing clothes, but that was it.
The house, said Evans, was boarded up again.
“We have to cut our losses at this point, she said. Losses that include photographs of her two children, and a kayak that was in the attic.
The three did not have renters insurance. They had just moved into the house in July.
Evans and the other tenants were staying at the Maple Ridge Best Western, but had to check out on Tuesday, March 22. Evans and her friend will be staying with Evans’ coworker in Vancouver, where she works. Her friend’s father will be staying with a daughter on Vancouver Island.
Assistant fire chief, James Clelland said the fire is not considered suspicious but the investigation was still ongoing as of Wednesday, March 23.
“We know approximately where it started,” said Clelland of the fire. “But, we’re still investigating as to the cause.”
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