Andy Johnston doesn’t know how the story of his house burning would have ended if a Good Samaritan hadn’t gone out of her way to wake him and his wife, Carole, Monday morning.
“She saw it and she kicked on the door, banged on the door till we were up and out of there,” Johnston said hours later, standing outside the couple’s badly burned 0 Avenue home.
“You never know, if she hadn’t banged on the door, what the results would’ve been.”
Yvonne Bernardy-Dearden told Peace Arch News she didn’t hesitate to act when she spotted flames coming from the side of the Johnstons’ house as she headed west in the 17000-block of 0 Avenue just before 6 a.m.
Dialing 911 and knocking on the door at the same time, the WestJet customer-service agent said she became more aggressive as she saw the fire “progressively just turning monstrous.”
“It was unreal how fast that fire moved,” she said. “Had I gone (to work) a minute later…”
Fire crews arrived to find the Johnstons’ home fully involved. By the time flames were out, the entire west side was in shambles – its exterior walls and interior ceilings damaged extensively; and parts of the roof collapsed. Inside, two to three inches of water covered the main floor, remnants of the effort to quell the blaze.
Exactly what sparked the fire is unclear, however, police say it is not considered suspicious.
Chad Johnston said his father called him shortly after his parents made it out of the house. He was “rattled,” he said.
Monday afternoon, Andy Johnston – a retired RCMP officer and former president of the White Rock/South Surrey Baseball Association – was in good spirits, appreciative of firefighters’ efforts to salvage items from the home, including a computer that contains precious family photos.
“We’re still together,” he said of his wife of 49 years. “That’s all that matters.”
He said Bernardy-Dearden “deserves a special recognition.”
However, she told PAN that she only did what anyone else would have.
“You don’t have to thank me, it’s nothing special,” she said, crediting her safety training through WestJet. “It’s just what you do.”