News

Passerby saves Oliver family from house fire

Fire destroyed a family of five
Fire destroyed a family of five's house and vehicle on Monday morning in Oliver.
— image credit: Photo Submitted by Skylar Noe-Vack

An Oliver family is devastated and left with nothing after fire destroyed their home.

Shawna Michaud, a friend of the family, said the Oliver couple, who have three children, are in complete shock after losing their home to the blaze that started Monday morning around 6 a.m.

“The mother is lost right now, she doesn’t know what to do or think. It is so devastating for them,” said Michaud.

“Ultimately her priority is her kids right now.”

Michaud, who was acting as the spokesperson for the family because they are without a phone at the time, said it was the conscious effort of a stranger that saved the family from the fire.

She said a motorist passing by, saw the smoke and quickly reacted by jarring the family awake by throwing rocks at the window and then kicking open their door.

“This person doesn’t want their name released but I can tell you they are amazing,” said Michaud.

All five of the family members upstairs escaped with just the clothes on their back. Another couple living in the basement suite were not present at the time of the fire.

Oliver fire department media spokesperson Rob Graham said the house is a complete loss, along with the family’s vehicle located in a garage.

“The main fire in the home was very aggressive and because it was an older building the insulation, comprised of sawdust and wood shavings, fuelled the fire in the main house,” said Graham.

“That is why it was so intense.

“There were a lot of flames by the time we arrived and it was fully engaged.

“There was no way we could go inside the building to do fire suppression.”

The fire jumped to MLA Linda Larson’s office next door where Graham said fire crews had to rip apart drywall and portions of the ceiling to battle it.

“There was definitely potential for it to jump to the next building, the Oliver Chronicle and the Oliver Theatre,” said Graham. “At this point we are still investigating, but can confirm the fire originated in the basement.”

The fire department was able to recover a few computers out of Larson’s office, but some personal items were lost.

Although the office is closed, Larson is still taking phone calls and e-mails. A media spokesperson for the MLA said they are currently looking for a new office and as soon as one is found an announcement will be made.

The family of five is staying with relatives.

Michaud has asked the public for assistance in outfitting the family, which includes children ages three, five and eight, with immediate needs such as clothing, toiletries and food.

“This is the type of family that anything they have they are fully appreciative,” said Michaud.

“It is why this tugs at your heartstrings.

“Anything that people want to give we are taking because they didn’t have renters insurance.

“It’s so tough starting off from zero again, people work all their lives for their household items and for them it’s all gone.”

Already she has had people contacting her to provide items from as far away as Kelowna including beds, freezers and other household items.

Anyone wanting to donate items to help the family can contact Michaud by phone at 250-498-5523 or via email at mich13@telus.net.

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