Four residents of the Ladysmith-area Stz’uminus First Nation were lucky to have gotten away unscathed last Friday night when their house exploded in flames.
At around 6 p.m. a neighbour heard several loud bangs. He said when he looked outside he saw flames shooting from the house on Shell Beach Road.
The North Oyster fire department was called initially, with neighbouring Ladysmith Fire Rescue sending out two engines in support, then the Cedar department being paged for assistance as well.
“There was great potential that the fire could move into the bush and trees so the Cedar fire hall was also contacted and they assisted with equipment and members,” said North Oyster Fire Chief Florian Schulz.
RCMP attended the scene as well and traffic was rerouted from Shell Beach Road for more than two hours.
“When we got there the two-storey house was over 75 per cent involved so the goal was to keep it from spreading,” said Schulz “The majority of the fire was under control fairly quickly but it did take quite a while to get to the deep hot spots and have the fire totally extinguished.
“We cleared the scene around 10 p.m. The fire reportedly started in the kitchen.”
Neighbours at the scene said that the family in the home had quite a large amount of Indigenous regalia that was very old and priceless. One of the witnesses described how a male neighbour went into the house, with thick black smoke billowing out of the downstairs doors and windows, to retrieve all of the artifacts. The witness said how they could not see the man but did hear him coughing inside the house as he was rescuing the regalia.
Ladysmith Fire Chief Chris Geiger, said that the Ladysmith equipment and crews were back at the local hall by 11 p.m.
The following morning North Oyster was called out again to put out some spot fires that had broken out.