Marion Derish was still shaking Wednesday, as she remembered the fire that consumed her next door neighbour’s North Cowichan home the night before.
“It was terrifying. The explosions and there’d be huge pieces of flying ash flying through the sky landing on everything,” said Derish.
At around 10:00 p.m. Tuesday, firefighters responded to a fully engulfed home at the intersection of Hall Road and Sprott Road after neighbours reported seeing smoke and flames.
According to neighbours, their immediate concern was the man who lived inside, whose remains were tragically discovered inside.
Family members have identified the man as 39-year-old Nate Haslam, a plumber who ran his own business out of his home. Family described him as “the nicest guy you could meet,” and “who was always willing to help.”
Strato Malamos, watched the rising smoke from kilometres away in North Cowichan and with extremely dry conditions, he said fear was high as firefighters tried to contain it.
“You’re always thinking that wow if this fire gets away from these guys it could be a problem,” said Malomos.
“It felt like we were in a war zone just to know that this was happening right next to me,” added Derish.
According to friends, Haslam’s mother helplessly watched on as the fire consumed his home, and she suffered a heart attack after learning of her son’s passing. She is in hospital recovering and a GoFundMe account has been set up to help her get through the loss of her son and his always present support.
“It’s really sad. It’s really sad,” said Derish.
RCMP and North Cowichan Fire investigators spent Wednesday sifting through what remains of the victims house, trying to determine what sparked the fire.
“Too preliminary to make any suggestions on what caused it but it doesn’t look like it’s suspicious at all,” said Cpl. Chris Manseau of Island District RCMP.