Group-home residents escape White Rock blaze

Joyce Crane, daughter of the owner of a White Rock group home, and James Winter hold on to three Yorkies that were unharmed in Monday
Joyce Crane, daughter of the owner of a White Rock group home, and James Winter hold on to three Yorkies that were unharmed in Monday's blaze.
— image credit: Brian Giebelhaus photo

Tenants of a Maple Street group home for developmentally disabled adults had to find another place to stay Monday night after a fire broke out in one of the home’s bedrooms.

Damage was largely limited to the one room, but as the home’s residents watched firefighters pull a blackened mattress, box-spring and bed frame out, it was clear they recognized the blaze could have been worse.

“This saved my life,” said James Winter, pulling out the cross he wears on a chain around his neck. “This right here.”

Winter has lived at the house for 25 years. One of five men who call the house home, Winter said the tenant whose room ignited happened to be at a medical appointment when the blaze broke out.

Firefighters were called to the 1268 Maple St. split-level house just before 3 p.m. April 11, after one of the residents spotted smoke coming from under a bedroom door.

The man, who didn’t want to be named, said he was sitting on the arm of a couch when he noticed the room get “a little bit warm.”

“Then I seen smoke coming underneath the door, top of the door. Black smoke,” the 64-year-old said, noting he has lived at the home for 35 years.

White Rock firefighters

“I yelled up to my landlord, ‘there’s a fire down here!”

Joyce Crane said she and her 90-year-old mother, who owns the house, were home at the time. Her mother, who has heart and lung problems, “was trying to push the door (to the affected room) open,” Crane said. “She still thinks she’s 19.”

The women ushered the men outside to safety, where they stood in the sunshine and a cool breeze as firefighters extinguished the blaze, removed damaged items and wrapped the home with yellow caution tape.

No one – including three Yorkies – was injured in the fire, however, Crane’s mother was assessed at the scene by paramedics.

Deputy fire Chief Bob Schlase said he could not comment on a possible cause until after an investigation. That was expected complete Tuesday, after Peace Arch News deadline.

Schlase was hopeful the tenants would be able to return home later Tuesday.

“I’m hoping they will have the ability to maybe get back into a part of the house tomorrow, but some, maybe not.”


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