A family home went up in flames in Cumberland early Saturday morning, before spreading to a neighbouring house as well.
“I heard people screaming so I jumped out of bed and put my clothes on and ran down into the street and just saw that the house was entirely engulfed in flames,” said neighbour Steve Morgan.
The fire happened near the west end of Dunsmuir Avenue, a section of road locals refer to as Camp Road.
“In ten minutes cars were melting, that’s how hot the fire was. The flames went so high you couldn’t even see the house behind it was involved, you couldn’t even see anything,” said another neighbour Christine McCulloch.
In all, 11 people were inside the two homes at the time of the fire and managed to escape, but the father of three children in the main home suffered severe burns as he re-entered the burning house three times looking one of his children.
“I understand he believed their youngest daughter was still in the house,” said McCulloch.
As it turned out the daughter had already made her way to a friend’s house and was safe. But her father was badly hurt.
“Neil was right here and I turned my hose on and knew he needed help,” added McCulloch. “I just turned the garden hose on and tried to first aid him.”
“He was pretty badly burnt in the feet and hands and he got smoke inhalation in his lungs,’ said Cumberland Fire Chief Mike Williamson.
The man is now in intensive care in Victoria.
Williamson thinks the blaze may have started outside a shed that was between the two homes and then started burning the outside of the house which is why the smoke detectors were not what alerted the family to the fire.
“They heard windows cracking, they heard popping and cracking and I believe that’s what they heard and woke up to,” said Williamson.
The exact cause of the fire has not been determined.
Thirteen people who lived in the two homes are now displaced.
Cumberland firefighters saved the second home but it still sustained $100,000 in damage.
The community is rallying to help the fire victims. An account has been set up for donations at First Credit Union in Cumberland.