A young Campbell River man is being hailed as a hero for his actions during a house fire.
Colby Shaw was recognized with a Fire Commissioner’s Commendation plaque for potentially saving six lives.
Gordon Anderson, B.C.’s fire commissioner, and Campbell River Fire Chief Ian Baikie presented Shaw with the plaque at Monday night’s council meeting.
“It’s a pleasure to recognize such heroic actions,” Anderson said. “It showed a great deal of courage. We do want to recognize the heroism he displayed on that evening.”
In the early morning hours of June 6, 2014 a fire broke out in a home on Varsity Drive. Baikie said the Campbell River Fire Department responded to the fire at approximately 4:30 a.m. and by the time crews arrived, they found what Baikie described as a “heavily involved fire, with smoke and fire coming from the second floor.”
Prior to the fire crew’s arrival, Shaw, along with his friend Glen Magbanua who was also in the home when the fire broke out, had managed to get all six occupants of the home – including a tenant in the basement who uses a wheelchair.
Baikie recounted that Shaw, who was sleeping in an upstairs bedroom, awoke to find fire in the home. Baikie said by that time the smoke was thick, making it difficult to breathe.
“Visibility on the second floor was next to none and Colby managed to find his way out of the house, yelling at others that may still be in the home,” Baikie said.
Once outside, Shaw realized his friend Magbanua’s younger sister was asleep in an upstairs bedroom. Shaw ran back into the home and attempted to reach the second floor while the fire was raging through the kitchen area, generating heavy smoke on that floor.
Baikie said in those conditions, the temperature would have been 500 degrees standing and Shaw would have had to stay low, which he did.
Baikie said as Shaw made his way to the bedroom he heard Magbanua – who had been sleeping in the living room and fought his way past the smoke to exit the home – calling from outside the house that he had grabbed a ladder from an outdoor storage shed and had it propped against the house in order to get his sister out of through her bedroom window.
Baikie said fortunately Shaw was able to turn around and exit the home through heavy smoke via the basement.
“All of these actions took place prior to our fire department arriving and when we did arrive, we found Colby unconscious on the front lawn,” Baikie said.
“We provided medical assistance to Colby before the ambulance arrived and he was transported to hospital where he made a full recovery.”
Baikie said it was thanks to Shaw and Magbanua’s quick and selfless actions that night that all six residents of the home made it out alive.
Fire Commissioner Anderson said that while entering a smoke-filled building can be a dangerous decision to make, in some circumstances it’s necessary.
“While we don’t encourage people to obviously go back into such conditions, there are situations where these sort of conditions arise and people have to use their judgement,” Anderson said. “Colby did an excellent job of arousing all the people in the house, ensuring they got to safety. He did so at risk to himself and we are grateful he made a full recovery.”
Magbanua will also be receiving a Fire Commissioner’s Commendation plaque but at a later date as he was out of the country at the time of Monday’s council meeting.