The screams of a terrified six-year-old awoke a family of four who escaped a fire which destroyed their Oyster River home early Monday morning.
“It’s sad, but they’re a very lucky family,” said Chief Neils Holbeck of the Oyster River Volunteer Fire Department. “I’d say they got out in the nick of time.”
Lyle Johnson, Kelly Bouzanne and their two boys, Dylan, 14, and Bobbi, 6, escaped virtually unharmed, but the blaze gutted their two-storey home located at 2259 Fearon Rd., and they have no insurance.
“They lost everything,” said Tracey Robertson, a family friend.
It was around 3:30 a.m. when fire started in Bobbi’s bedroom on the ground floor; Holbeck suspects a faulty electric baseboard heater was the cause.
With the flames growing, Bobbi woke up first and it was his screams which alerted the rest of the family.
According to Robertson, the back of Bobbi’s hair was singed as he ran up the stairs towards his parents’ bedroom.
By that time, all were awake and were able to safely flee the burning home along with the family dog.
“It was fully involved when we arrived with flames coming out the back of the house,” said Holbeck.
Strong winds fuelled the blaze which – in spite of the best efforts of firefighters – gutted the interior of the home, destroying irreplaceable family photographs and a computer with most of their business information.
“We dumped a lot of water on it – there were some real stubborn spots,” the chief noted.
The intense heat, combined with the wind, caused concern the fire would spread to the neighbour’s house, but the blaze was contained to the one home.
However, the front of Johnson’s pickup truck, which he uses to run Clean Sweep Chimneys, was melted by the heat.
The main crew of volunteer firefighters was on scene for three-and-a-half hours, but a few others were there until noon.
However, late in the afternoon, the chief and a few others returned to douse smouldering beams supporting the roof.
Friends and neighbours were there too to support the devastated family. They hugged and reassured them they will help in any way.
“We’ve already got a burgundy leather couch donated. We’re getting coats and shoes for them, whatever they need,” said Robertson, as another woman showed up to say she’s going to solicit help from other neighbours.
Emergency Support Services will provide the family with a hotel room and money for food and clothing for 72 hours. After that, they may also receive assistance from Red Cross, but Robertson said they will need financial help to pay the bills.
“They’re a hard-working family and they did so much on their own on the house and the yard…last year Kelly went out and collected bottles for a cancer fundraiser we were holding…they need our help now,” she said.
From the front, the house looks okay – the decorative silver stars are still hanging from the top of the porch cover.
However, a quick walk to the side and the back fully reveals the extent of the damage – the entire house and timbers are black and charred.
As firefighters doused the smouldering beams, Bouzanne walked over from the neighbour’s home, forced herself to look inside and then quickly looked away as she let out a gentle sob and the tears began to fall again.
- Robertson is hoping to set up a registered trust fund to help support the family. Watch the Campbell River Mirror and www.campbellrivermirror.com for updates on this story.