Langley resident Morgan Dansie didn’t hesitate when he saw a barn engulfed in fire on South Surrey acreage Wednesday.
“I just ran up there, yelling for people… heard the horses going crazy,” Dansie, 30, told Peace Arch News Thursday morning.
The new father (pictured at left with wife, Nichole) was en route to White Rock’s Peace Arch Hospital with his wife, week-old son and mother-in-law just before noon Dec. 30 when he spotted trouble in the 16600-block of 16 Avenue – just east of the 16 Avenue on-ramp to Highway 99.
“I saw the smoke, then I saw flames, pulled over,” Dansie said.
After calling 911, Dansie said he “ran and ran and ran” up the long driveway until he reached the burning building, where he discovered several horses trapped in paddocks, flames burning within 2½ metres of them.
“They were looking at me, ‘help me’,” he said, describing the panic he saw in the animals’ eyes.
“I had to go in and grab ’em one by one to get ’em moving, then get out of the way.”
Dansie figures he released about eight horses before the fire made it impossible to continue.
“Every horse that I pulled out, the flames were getting more intense and more intense,” he said. “After I let them out, they all wanted to follow me.
“There were flames shooting out the roof, out the sides, the windows…”
Firefighters, police, paramedics and animal-control officers arrived on the scene shortly after, and the surviving horses were reportedly taken in by a neighbour. Black smoke from the blaze could be seen billowing into the sky from kilometres away.
From the scene Thursday, Surrey battalion Chief Richard Ellis confirmed that three horses died in the fire. The fate of two dogs and three cats that also call the property home remained unclear as of Thursday morning, although one witness told PAN the dogs and one cat also did not make it out.
Ellis said the cause of the fire has not been determined. An investigator was expected to be on site all day Thursday and an excavator was brought in to assist in digging through the debris.
“At this point, they haven’t even gone inside because it’s unsafe to to,” Ellis said, noting “a few” hot spots still remained. “It’s just too dangerous.”
Ellis commended Dansie’s quick actions, but cautioned citizens against running into a burning building.
“Maybe not the safest thing to do, (but) in that instance, maybe saved some horses,” he said.
Dansie told PAN that Wednesday was not the first time that he has been in the right place at the right time. He recalled pulling a woman from a fire in North Vancouver about five years ago, and said he’s also helped nabbed shoplifters in the past.
“It seems to follow me – everywhere I go, I’m doing something,” he said.
While thoughts of his new son were running through his mind during Wednesday’s rescue efforts, Dansie said he wouldn’t hesitate to help out again in any situation where lives are at risk.
“It’s basic instinct. You don’t really think, you just want to help, you want to save,” he said.
“I was taught, respect how you want to be respected, and just help. At least if I tried, I know I tried.”
(Video footage by Devin Olsen)