I'll never forget this'

Send to a friend

Send this article to a friend.

Neighbours witness family's escape from burning home

Shortly after midnight Thursday, smoke billowed from the thirdstorey window of a home in Buckmaster's Circle. A family of four was at that window, trapped by fire. All four would ultimately drop about 30 feet from that window to the ground.

Friday morning the RNC reported the residents sustained injuries that are not life-threatening but are serious. That information was amended at approximately 4 p.m. Injuries have not been confirmed by medical personnel as of this date/time, but are believed to be more serious than initially reported, police stated.

A teddy bear and bundled blankets lie on the ground outside 42 Buckmaster's Circle Friday morning, hours after a serious fire sent four people to hospital after they had to jump from a third-floor bedroom window to escape the smoke and flames.

Shortly after midnight Thursday, smoke billowed from the thirdstorey window of a home in Buckmaster's Circle. A family of four was at that window, trapped by fire. All four would ultimately drop about 30 feet from that window to the ground.

Friday morning the RNC reported the residents sustained injuries that are not life-threatening but are serious. That information was amended at approximately 4 p.m. Injuries have not been confirmed by medical personnel as of this date/time, but are believed to be more serious than initially reported, police stated.

All four (residents) remain in hospital and sustained what are believed to be serious injuries.

It was the screams from the window that first drew neighbours to the front of the burning house No. 42, located across the street from the recreation centre.

They watched, pulled a mattress beneath the window and otherwise did what they could to help the family of two adult women (ages 34 and 31) and two children (ages 12 and 13).

The 12-year-old was first out of the window, hanging from the window ledge as long as she could, according to neighbours, before dropping.

A female neighbour a few doors down, who asked not to be identified, saw the youngest girl fall.

I started yelling out for help and stuff to get a ladder, she said. The oldest daughter was asking (my husband) to catch her if she fell.

The neighbour called 911. Someone had already called.

Jean Barron said she was also out at the scene before firefighters arrived.

"I was on the phone with the neighbour and we heard somebody screaming and I looked out through the back window and saw the smoke and I grabbed him (she points to her 15-year old son George who is standing nearby) and I said, 'Get up,'" Barron said. "The place (outside) was crawling in no time, because everybody heard them singing out, 'Help us!' 'Help us!'"

She watched as one by one they dropped from the window.

"Missus there in the house there (she points at a neighbouring home) she tried to catch one of them," she said. "She missed her by an inch, but she broke her fall."

Barron's son, George, knows the youngest girl. They were in summer school together. He lives two doors down.

He said he did not see her fall, but saw the rest.

"I'll never forget this," he said Friday, staring up at the window where the family had gathered.

The primary 911 call reporting the fire went in at 12:05 a.m. The call was entered into the system and relayed to the St. John's Regional Fire Department. Firefighters arrived one minute and 27 seconds after receiving the call, according to Supt. Keon Penney. In all, it meant the ladder truck, first on the scene, arrived at 12:08 a.m.

Neighbours did what they could for the distressed family in the meantime.

Firefighters immediately tended to the family upon arrival and also began making sure neighbouring houses were emptied. An ambulance arrived and a second was called for at 12:18 a.m.

A loud banging on the front door of No. 44 woke heavy sleeper Lori Boone.

Boone said having firefighters usher her, her boyfriend and her five-year old daughter out of their home started her heart racing. There was the sight and smell of black smoke billowing from both the windows and front door of the adjacent townhouse. Then there was the sight of her next door neighbours injured, having fallen three storeys to the ground.

Boone said the sight had shocked her, as she tried to calm her upset five-year old in the midst of firefighters, police, medical workers and a crowd of 50 or so of her neighbours.

On Friday, Boone said Thursday's events were beginning to hit home.

She said she wants to see fire ladders added to the outside of all of the housing units in the Buckmaster's Circle area.

Fire escapes are not required under current city fire regulations.

"We're putting a petition around to get ladders. That's one thing that should be mandatory in these houses. Those children would have made it out unharmed, unscratched last night if there had to be a ladder on that house, a fire escape. I mean, that's an awful drop," she said.

"They had time to get out. That was the saddest part. They didn't want to jump. If they had a ladder they would have been down," said the female neighbour who also asked to remain anonymous.

In all, three pumper trucks, a rescue unit, a ladder truck and approximately 22 firefighters responded to the scene. The last fire crew finished up around 3 a.m. The home at No. 42 was heavily damaged. The adjacent homes had smoke damage, but firefighters said they were saved by fire walls, required under new building codes.

Police said no cause for the fire had been determined as of 3:30 p.m. Friday and it remains under investigation.

afitzpatrick@thetelegram.com

Organizations: RNC, Barron's

Geographic location: St. John's

  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5

Thanks for voting!

Top of page

Comments

Comments

Recent comments

  • Jay
    July 20, 2010 - 13:03

    It'd be great to have a fire ladder on every home in the world, but that just isn't possible.

    Sad story, but realistically they aren't going to install fire ladders on every house there now because of this.

    I see no mention of smoke detectors. One would think that if proper detectors were installed & functioning, this family could have been alerted to the fire far before it was so bad that they had to jump from windows to escape.

  • Lane
    July 20, 2010 - 13:03

    you can buy fire ladders at Canadian Tire or any store like that, to throw out the window in the case of an emergency. No need to petition.

  • Marie
    July 20, 2010 - 13:02

    From my perspective, I have not seen any mention of there weren't any detectors or extinguishers also sometimes inhaling smoke can deepen your sleep as well a deep sleeper may not be awaken by the sound of a fire detector, yes friends, it's been know to happen. Likewise, an extinguisher is great for a small fire and can be a great lifesaver, however, if your awaken by a fire engulfed home, be smart and get out by any means possible, please don't stand around with a hand held fire extinguisher as the walls cave in.
    I do believe, that a fire escape should be manditory for a house three floors or more high.
    Yes, we are all responsible for our own safety. Still, what is the percentage of homes in St. John's without an escape ladder, even better, how about fire alarms with old batteries and naturally out of dated fire extinguishers, have you checked your F.E. date lately?

  • michele
    July 20, 2010 - 13:02

    I feel WE are all responsible for OUR OWN Safety
    also I believe
    A) in appts and 2 or more high story homes being rented should be Manditory under RENTAL agreements
    B) home owners home ins. coverage should aslo call for these safety measures in place...like these fire ladders (available in retail market) as well as the detectors and extinguishers...