It was the searing heat that awoke Charlie Paul-Ranger, and then the flames bolted him out of bed.
Charlie had been asleep in the master bedroom of the McKenzie Road home at about 10 p.m. on Saturday while his wife, Joanne, was attending the Crystal Gala breast cancer fundraiser in Abbotsford.
His two stepsons Tyler, 23, and Adam, 28, were in their rooms.
Charlie quickly tried to put out the fire, but it was already too far out of control and was creeping up the wall. He flew from the room and screamed “Fire!” to his stepsons.
The acrid smoke was beginning to fill the home, and the young men didn’t have enough time to grab even their shoes.
The three men escaped safely, along with their dog and three cats.
Joanne arrived home to see multiple fire trucks on the scene, as well as paramedics and police officers.
Crews had arrived to find heavy smoke and flames coming from what appeared to be the garage of the home.
They later discovered that this area was in fact the master bedroom, and it was where Charlie had been sleeping.
The cause of the blaze is believed to be electrical in nature.
In the days following the fire, the family, who had been renting the home for the last four years, has been better able to assess the damage, discovering that almost nothing is salvageable.
Everything in the main bedroom has been destroyed, except for a pine box filled with photo albums. Heavy smoke in the rest of the home coated much of their belongings with a thick soot and extreme heat melted several items.
The four did not have tenants’ insurance to cover the losses.
Joanne works as a flagger, and Charlie works in a steel yard. Adam is collecting workers’ compensation after catching both of his hands in a machine at a rubber-products manufacturer, where Tyler also is employed.
Although they have money coming in, replacing all their belongings will be a hardship, and family friend Keri Buzikievich wants to help.
She can only collect clothes for now, as there is no storage for furniture and other household items. (Charlie, Joanne, Tyler and Adam are currently staying with friends and family as they search for new accommodation.)
Buzikievich is asking for donations of men’s clothing in shirt sizes large and extra-large and pants with waist sizes 36, 38 and 40. Also needed are shoes in sizes 12 and 13.
She is also asking for women’s clothing in size 14 for pants and size large for shirts, as well as shoes in a size 10. Buzikievich would also like to replace Joanne’s flagger’s gear (size 10.5 for work boots and large or extra-large for the coveralls). Anyone with items to donate is asked to call Buzikievich at 778-779-1369 to arrange drop-off.
The family is also hoping to track down one of their cats that made it out of the fire but has since gone missing. “Garfield” is a large orange cat, and if anyone finds him, they are asked to contact Adam at 778-344-1790.