Devastating house fire destroys Delta family’s Christmas tradition

According to Delta Fire and Emergency Services, the investigation is ongoing, but the fire appears accidental.

  • Dec. 11, 2015 7:00 a.m.

Shanti Narayan

By Larissa Cahute, The Province

As Shanti Narayan stands in the rain outside her former home in Delta, its windows boarded up and the blackened roof caved in, she can’t help but relive the painful moments she spent watching fire race through the house almost two months ago.

The 66-year-old grandmother was in the kitchen on a mid-October afternoon when she heard a noise somewhere in the three-bedroom house she shared with her 18-year-old grandson on 94 Avenue at 117th Street. She went to investigate and before she knew it, her living room was blanketed in thick black smoke.

“I’ve never seen (anything) like that before,” Narayan said as she stood in front of the now-vacant home surrounded by fencing. The back deck was still covered in soot and burned furniture.

She and her grandson Darren had fled the house; there was no time to put on shoes or grab any prized possessions. She stood in her socks on 94 Avenue and watched her house burn for hours.

According to Delta Fire and Emergency Services, the investigation is ongoing, but the fire appears accidental.

Narayan couldn’t recover anything from her home — no clothing, nothing from the temple she built in the third bedroom and none of the framed photos that lined the walls, including those of her husband who died 17 years ago.

“My temple, my pictures — my memories … everything is gone,” Narayan said as she removed her glasses to wipe tears from her eyes. “I have nothing.”

Narayan lost all of her belongings in the fire, but she will at least be able to celebrate the holidays with a Christmas food hamper from Deltassist Family and Community Services, one of 27 community organizations that receives funds from The Province’s Empty Stocking Fund.

Ashley Raj, Narayan’s 27-year-old granddaughter, said that as far back as she can remember, Christmas and New Year’s Eve has been spent at her grandmother’s home, where the family cooks, eats, drinks and celebrates together. Her grandmother has six children, 16 grandchildren and four great-grandkids and they are still unsure how the holidays will pan out.

“We always go to her house, every year, and this year we don’t have a place to go, to call home,” Raj said through tears.

They may go to Narayan’s son’s home in Surrey, where she’s currently staying, but nobody wants to bring up Christmas this year.

“We haven’t been talking about it,” said Raj. “I don’t know if we’re going to be celebrating — it won’t be the same as all the other years.”

Lorraine Yates, who works with Deltassist, said the organization often helps people like Narayan who are coping with a sudden change in circumstances, such as the loss of a home or job, that impacts a family’s finances.

While the Christmas program primarily helps families with low incomes, “we deal with things on an individual basis,” Yates said. “If someone gets a special case, we work with them. We always err on the side of kindness.

“It takes a lot to come in and ask for help.”

Last year The Province’s Empty Stocking Fund raised more than $347,000 thanks to the fundraising efforts of corporate sponsors, local supporters and, of course, Province readers. The Province covers all administrative costs, so every dollar donated goes to the fund’s beneficiaries, including Deltassist, which then buy gifts and food hampers for families and singles in need across B.C.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Suspected drugs, counterfeit cash seized during distracted driving stop: Surrey RCMP

Police said incident happened near 152nd Street and Fraser Highway

Fate of five-district policing model in Surrey rests with new police board

Whalley/City Centre, Guildford/Fleetwood, Newton, Cloverdale, and South Surrey districts formed under McCallum’s watch in 1998

North Delta students talk mental health in newly-published book

The book was researched, written and published by students in Delview Secondary’s Innovation 10 class

Surrey teacher wins provincial award for his work teaching art to students

Clayton Heights teacher Dennis Memmott recognized with award granted by his fellow art teachers

Guilty plea withdrawn in West Kelowna murder trial

Tejwant Danjou’s application to have his impromptu guilty plea removed was accepted by the court

Bald eagle hit by train in northern B.C. has a chance of survival

The raptor has been taken to OWL in the Lower Mainland for recovery

Cheslatta Carrier Nation and Rio Tinto sign a historic agreement

Co-operation crucial to stem dropping Nechako Reservoir level

Hundreds of B.C. firefighters ‘climb the wall’ for BC Lung Association

The charity fundraiser saw participants climbing up 48 storeys

Stories of sexual assault at B.C. tree planting camps ‘shocking but not surprising:’ advocate

Contractors’ association is working with trainers to create respectful culture

Lawyer gets house arrest for possessing child porn

Maple Ridge resident gets nine-month term

Police renew appeal in help finding missing Maple Ridge woman after vehicle found

Ridge Meadows RCMP released a new photo showing the missing woman walking east on Dewdney Trunk Road

Canada prepared to monitor for community spread of COVID-19: Tam

The U.S. confirmed one case of the new coronavirus, or COVID-19, in California Thursday

Most Read