A Maple Bay family known for their extravagant Christmas displays is scrambling to find new decorations after a vehicle fire ended up destroying much of this year’s exhibit.
Since moving to their Belcarra Road home in 2014, Brian and Lana Ford and their kids have been putting time and money into making each year’s display better than the last. Others living in the North Cowichan community have taken notice, stopping by on Christmas light tours to see how the family has lit up their front yard this year.
Their love for the holiday season is well known, with Brian and Lana even getting married close to Christmas just so they could have it be a part of future anniversaries.
But earlier this week, a frightening incident threatened the winter wonderland when a fire broke out in a car parked in their driveway.
“I got a panicked phone call at work from Lana and all I heard was ‘fire,’ so I hung up and went and told work that I was going home,” Brian recalled Thursday.
“From what Lana told me after I was able to get ahold of her again, she went to start the Jeep up to defrost to get our son to school and she went back in the house for about two, maybe five minutes and came back out, opened up the driver’s door to nothing but thick, black smoke,” he said.
While looking to see what was causing it, the 2016 Jeep Cherokee suddenly erupted into flames shooting from the back end. Lana called 911 and firefighters were on scene in short order, extinguishing the blaze, but not before heat damaged another vehicle in the driveway as well as some of the home’s soffits. It also destroyed much of the cherished display, which they put hundreds of dollars into each year to update, replace and maintain decorations.
“Multiple Christmas decorations have melted to the ground,” he said. “Lots of candy canes that line the driveway. We have some pretty extensive LED trees, lots of big structures that we have, so we were lucky that it didn’t go across the whole yard or spread to the garage on the house.”
Lana was treated for smoke inhalation and is intermittently unable to speak, but the family says the most important thing is there were no major injuries in the fire.
Brian’s sister has launched an online fundraiser to help out the family who has done so much to bring joy to others, so they can manage the up-front cost to fix or replace the things that were damaged as Christmas approaches.
“They spend countless hours creating a spectacular Christmas display for the community to enjoy yearly. Each year you drive by their house, there is always a new addition to their yard,” she wrote, adding that the family is already dealing with adversity as a result of a head-on crash in 2019 that has left Lana unable to work.
“With Lana not working due to disability and Brian working two jobs, they still find the time to spread the Christmas cheer and set up a beautiful display,” said Andrea Gallacher.
Despite everything, the family still plans on getting the lights back on before Christmas, thanks to a community rallying to support them by donating not just money, but decorations as well.
“It’s been overwhelming, to be honest with you,” said Brian. “We’ve had people stop by almost every day to see how we’re doing, we’ve had donations, we had an actual ornament dropped off to put in the yard.”
There’ll be one addition to this year’s display, though: The burned-out vehicle that fire investigators are asking the family to leave in the driveway until they can properly assess it to find out what happened.
“And then as soon as that has been done and the vehicle is cleared, whatever we can turn on, we’re going to be turning on,” said Brian.