Nanaimo neighbour, flagger run into burning home to save couple: ‘We’re not heroes, we care for each other’

Nanaimo neighbour, flagger run into burning home to save couple: 'We're not heroes, we care for each other'
WatchCHEK News shared Wednesday how three men working on a road nearby ran in to save a couple from the blaze, but it turns out that a flagger and neighbour had already rescued them. Skye Ryan reports.

A remarkable story of people pitching together to save an elderly couple is surfacing out of a near-tragic house fire in Nanaimo.

Chelsea Groeneveld was back directing traffic on Nanaimo’s Estevan Road Thursday, amazed at how her shift unfolded the day earlier.

“There was no thinking, it was just, go,” said Groeneveld, a Nanaimo resident.

The 27-year-old was on flagging duty to restrict traffic next to an Estevan Road infrastructure project. She was talking with Daniel Bossert, a neighbour of the project, at about 12:30 p.m. when they both smelled smoke. Then they saw the smoke — and went running.

The duo knew a couple in their 90s lived in the home, which was on fire, so Groeneveld said she ran in the front door while Bossert went around back.

“By the time we got there it was just engulfed so fast. It’s amazing how things burn. You don’t actually know until you’re there,” said Estevan Road resident Daniel Bossert.

“No one expects to walk into a burning house. When I told my mom she said ‘What did you do?'” said Groeneveld.

According to Groeneveld, the home was so full of smoke that she couldn’t see a foot in front of her face, and the elderly woman in the home had gone back in to find her husband.

Once Groeneveld got her out, Bossert surfaced with the woman’s elderly husband and three workers from the nearby infrastructure project who also ran in to help.

“I was just really glad to see those guys show up too because I remember standing in the house for that second and being like ‘I’m alone in here,'” said Groeneveld.

By the time fire crews arrived, Groeneveld had returned to her flagging post and emergency workers wouldn’t know until later the heroics that she and Bossert had resorted to.

“They got the people out before we got there,” said Capt. Terrence Horst of Nanaimo Fire Rescue.

“They’re safe and that’s the most important thing. We’re not heroes, we care for each other. That’s how we do it here,” said Bossert.

With everyone’s help, the couple in their 90s managed to escape unharmed before firefighters arrived.

Groeneveld stayed to complete her flagging shift Wednesday well after emergency crews were gone.

Skye RyanSkye Ryan

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