A house fire Sunday afternoon with two occupants could have had a much different outcome if it wasn’t for the assistance of a 72-year-old woman, said Courtenay Fire Chief Don Bardonnex.
Around 5 p.m. Jan. 25, heavy smoke engulfed the home on Rachel Road, off Powerhouse Road. By the time firefighters arrived, about one third of the house in flames, he explained.
“I could hear voices in the backyard and I went to the backyard and saw two victims coming out of the driveway with very, very limited mobility. As it turned out, the victim, a 89-year-old female, was burnt and collapsed inside the building, and the other female — 72-year-old Helen Anne Goulet — entered the building and pulled the person to safety, receiving burns to herself and severe smoke inhalation.
Goulet, a friend of the family, was helping in the garage when she heard the occupant scream. She walked out and saw the house on fire, entering through the back door to find the occupant on the floor of her kitchen, added Bardonnex.
“She actually had to pull her out. Once she got her out it was extremely limited mobility on both the occupants’ parts to move them to safety.”
A male occupant who was in the garage at the time escaped without injury. Both women received burns to their hair, face and arms, but were released from hospital Sunday night.
“I’m very, very proud of Helen for what she did but I don’t recommend that anyone does that sort of thing. It’s extremely dangerous; smoke isn’t smoke any more, it’s toxic gases, it’s a very, very dangerous environment,” added Bardonnex.
Firefighters continue to investigate the cause of the blaze, and the home sustained significant damage.
Bardonnex noted he has only come across a situation similar to this about one other time in his career.
“I’m completely amazed that she did get this woman out given the limited mobility. They were both black from the heavy smoke … and they both had burns. It’s truly an amazing feat. But it’s not something we recommend, but having said that, if she didn’t, the outcome would have been quite a bit different.”