When she first heard the loud bang, the woman thought it had come from somewhere else in the neighbourhood.
She quickly learned otherwise, after her eldest son yelled, “We have to leave! There’s a fire!”
The woman escaped the blaze at 2284 Orchard Drive with her 18- and 20-year-old sons. Her husband returned home from his job in industrial sales to see their house engulfed in smoke and flames.
On Tuesday morning, the couple, who did not want their names published, looked over their damaged home – one of two destroyed by fire Monday in Abbotsford in unrelated incidents.
The pair were not permitted past the tape blocking off their driveway, but the gutted shell of their three-storey home could be seen from the road, with the toppled chimney leaning precariously across the battered roof.
The family, who have lived there for about six years, have lost everything.
But the man is thankful.
“Everybody is safe. Everybody is healthy, even the dog.”
Investigators were on the scene trying to determine the cause of the fire, which began at about 9 p.m. Monday. Don Beer, chief of Abbotsford Fire Rescue Service, said the blaze seems to have originated in a top-floor bedroom at the back corner of the home.
He said it doesn’t appear to be suspicious, but the exact cause has not yet been determined nor has the source of the bang heard by residents blocks away.
Beer said firefighters were unable to tackle the blaze from the back of the home, due to steep terrain, and the intensity of the flames prevented them from going inside. Their efforts were concentrated to the roof and front of the home.
He estimated the damage at $350,000.
The scene was eerily similar Tuesday morning at another east Abbotsford property not far from the Orchard Drive residence. The owner of the three-storey house at 35627 Dina Place was on scene to survey the destruction of the 18-year-old residence.
He lived alone in the first floor of the house, and the top two storeys were occupied by a woman and two teenage foster children who lost most of their possessions in the blaze.
Beer said a neighbour saw smoke coming from the roof of the house at about 2:45 p.m. Monday and alerted the occupants. The woman then went upstairs and opened a door, where the fire was picking up. She fled the home, but was taken to hospital for smoke inhalation and released later that afternoon.
Fire crews arrived to find the roof and top floor fully engulfed in flames. A firefighter injured his ankle while working on a ladder and was treated in hospital.
Beer said the cause is believed to be electrical in nature.
He estimates damage at $300,000.