Darryl Parsons set up his deep fryer to make a late-night meal in his second-storey apartment and headed up to the third floor to check if his buddy was hungry.
While Parsons was talking to his friend, the building’s fire alarms went off. Parsons dashed back down to his suite, and saw smoke streaming through the door.
The 23-year-old’s main thought was rescuing his two beloved cats: Misty, a grey seven-year-old female, and Sylvester, a six-year-old black-and-white male.
Parsons raced into the apartment, frantically trying to locate his two pets, but the thick black smoke and searing heat were too much. His only escape was off the balcony.
Parsons jumped to safety, leaving everything behind. He wasn’t even wearing shoes.
His suite in the Abbotsford Place apartment complex, located at the corner of George Ferguson Way and Gladwin Road, was destroyed.
The fire took place at about 11:30 p.m. on Friday. Crews arrived to find heavy smoke coming from the unit, which quickly became engulfed in flames. They were able to keep the fire from spreading to the other units, although 12 suites suffered heavy smoke and water damage.
Two city buses were dispatched to house residents of the building while crews battled the blaze.
Most of the occupants were able to return to their suites once the fire was out, but several residents required temporary housing. There were no injuries.
Assistant Fire Chief Ron Hull said a total of 48 firefighters were on the scene, along with 12 firetrucks from six different fire halls.
Tenant Shawn Herrewynen (in photo at left), who lives on the third floor of the building, said he was awakened by pounding on his apartment door. Two police officers were ensuring that residents safely evacuated the building.
“It was scary. For such a small apartment, it was a pretty big fire,” he said.
This is not the first time that Herrewynen, whose brother Kenny is an Abbotsford firefighter, has lived in a building where a fire occurred.
In January 2012, he and two other men rescued a tenant from a suite in the Abby Glen Apartments on Tims Street. The man had left a frying pan burning on the stove and then fell asleep.
Herrewynen said he was relieved when he found out that everyone had made it out safely from the Abbotsford Place fire.
Speaking at the scene on Monday morning, Parsons said he had no fire insurance and lost everything in the blaze.
“I have nothing to my name. I don’t even have my wallet,” he said.
Parsons is currently receiving employment insurance while awaiting a return to his landscaping job in March. He is now living with his dad and stepmom while he figures out his next step.
“My home’s gone. I’ve just got to start from the ground up again,” he said.
Parsons was informed that Misty had perished in the fire, but he has yet to find Sylvester. He hopes that the cat, which has an identifying ear tattoo, will either be turned in to the SPCA or will show up at the apartment building.
Meanwhile, if anyone finds a cat that matches Sylvester’s description, they can contact reporter Vikki Hopes at the Abbotsford News by calling 604-851-4530.