A massive fire in Nanaimo has left a family homeless there just days before Christmas. Neighbours say flames were shooting 50 feet in the air when firefighters arrived on scene the scene near Long Lake late Friday, but it is what those firefighters did to save the family’s Christmas that has left the biggest impression.
Bryan Rodier looked on at a heartbreaking scene Saturday, his neighbour's home devastated by a massive fire just days before Christmas.
"Just the sheer shock of how fast that fire went," said Rodier. "Went from zero to a million in about two seconds," he said.
The home on Squirrel Lane in Nanaimo's Long Lake Heights caught fire just before 4 p.m. Friday and living just a few houses away, Rodier ran to try to alert his neighbours, an older couple, who he said he found in a panic.
"I just kept yelling at him, get out of the way, get out of the way and his wife in a housecoat kept running in and out of the house and I said get away the fire department's coming and he just stood there in shock," said Rodier. "I don't think he knew what to do. Just kept trying to put the fire out with his garden hose," said Rodier.
" At that point the fire was so involved that a garden hose would never touch it," said Asst. Chief of Nanaimo Fire Rescue Martin Drakeley.
Firefighters say it appears the fire started in the garage, consuming a motorcycle and car in there before spreading to the home. With the homeowner's out, firefighters did what they could to save the structure and considering the time of year they did one extra thing, running inside to save the family's Christmas presents.
"Fire Department managed to save his Christmas presents and brought them out. I don't know how they did that but they did," said Rodier.
"They did a good job" said Asst. Chief Drakeley.
Drakeley said it makes him proud firefighters could save even a little of this family's Christmas.
"Just to kind of protect that portion of it for them," he said.
The Christmas presents still sit in the driveway of the home, saved from the damage investigators are now sorting though, to find a cause of the fire. Fortunately no one was injured and Nanaimo Fire Rescue, says smoke detectors were likely the reason for that.
"Without smoke detectors it could have been a really bad one," said Asst, Chief Drakeley. "They were in the other end of the house and they didn't even know it was happening. So smoke detectors save lives," he said.