A Jan. 13 fire has severely damaged a mobile home on Canim-Hendrix Lake Road in Forest Grove, leaving its two residents temporarily homeless.
Forest Grove Volunteer Fire Department (FGVFD) chief Aron Zablotny says his crew responded to the call of a residential fire just before 7 p.m. on Friday, joined by 100 Mile House Fire Rescue (OMFR) through a mutual aid request.
Zablotny says 10 of the 19 members who responded attended the scene with two fire engines and a water tender, while another engine was kept on standby at the fire hall with the remaining crew.
Upon arrival, crews observed fire coming from the rear of the mobile home, with the fire source visible under the structure, he explains.
FGVFD was on the scene for around four-and-a-half hours, with the main challenges stemming from preventing the cold temperatures freezing up the firefighters’ water supply.
“We contained it to the back bedroom of the unit, but [there was] heavy smoke and heat damage to the rest of it.
“[OMFR] used the positive pressure ventilation, which basically forces the fire down. It keeps it contained – [so] localized to the bedroom.”
The cause of the fire is under investigation, but Zablotny says it appears to be an electric heater under the bedroom area of the trailer, and both occupants were able to exit without injuries.
Don Nelson and his girlfriend, Cecilia Fraser, are the tenants of the trailer.
Nelson says between the fire and the smoke damage, they both lost all their household and personal possessions, with no insurance coverage to replace any of it.
“I’m on disability, so I’m low income.”
They are now staying at the Red Coach Inn in 100 Mile House, with their two big dogs tied up outside and quite disoriented, so they are worried about the daily feeding of their chickens and rabbits left behind (and without power for warmth), he explains.
Nelson says their most urgent immediate needs are a place to live on or close to the property, so they can care for their livestock, as well as storage space for donated household items until the landlord can provide a home for them again.
He and Cecelia are very much hoping someone will loan them a large travel trailer to live in on the site until spring, and also a power source to keep it warm and livable (such as a connection to a neighbour’s home, or possibly, a generator), Nelson adds.
He explains the Canadian Red Cross (and Emergency Support Services) is helping out with some of the inn costs, clothing, food and household needs, while their family in Clinton – where they lived until a year ago – is helping with lots of furniture, but they have nowhere suitable to store it.
Donations may be made at the 100 Mile House BMO in Cariboo Mall, under the name Don Nelson, or call Nelson at 250-644-0996.
Nelson says the electric ceramic heater under the trailer was there to prevent the water pipes from freezing during the recent cold snap.
However, after this frightening and tragic experience, he will never trust electric heaters again, he adds.
“It was right underneath the bedroom, and if we would have gone to bed, we wouldn’t have got out.”