A family of five and several pets escaped a house fire early Wednesday in Maple Ridge.
The fire started on Greenwell Street and Purdey Avenue, sometime before 3:30 a.m.
One of the daughters woke the rest of the family. All escaped, although three were taken to hospital. The father may have suffered some burns to his head.
Several pets were recovered, but six birds died and two cats remain missing.
Maple Ridge assistant fire chief Michael Van Dop said that the house was fully involved in flames when firefighters arrived.
Three people were taken to hospital with injuries, but have since been released.
“One of the adults had first- and second-degree burns on their head, but treated and released,” Van Dop said.
“Everybody was out of the house on our arrival. The home is heavily fire-damaged.”
Crews remain on scene this morning to do an investigation to try to determine the cause.
Van Dop confirmed that pet birds in the house on the upper storey didn’t survive, but firefighters did rescue three guinea pigs from the basement.
Tony Tonnellier, who lives in the basement, said the smoke alarms sounded waking his sister, who alerted the rest of the family. “I was the last one out. Within 15 minutes, the whole upstairs was burning,” said Tonnellier. “I’ve never been in a fire like that. I didn’t know a house could burn that quickly.”
His girlfriend Kristin Connor escaped as soon as she could. “I grabbed my slippers, glasses, phone and phone charger and got out.” She later recovered some of other possessions, such as her identification, jewelry and clothes. The family has been in the house for about five years and have house insurance.
The fire department, with Fire Hall No. 1 visible from the house, just north of Dewdney Trunk Road, was there in minutes.
One cat, named Spooky was rescued and was resting in a cat carrier in one of the family’s vehicles. But the other two cats, Sophie and Honey were missing. Connor though noted that firefighters haven’t found them inside, and that the doors were open when the house was on fire.
“We’re hopeful, always hopeful. Cats are pretty resilient little animals in terms of taking care of themselves and getting out. I wouldn’t go so far as to say they’re gone at this point, just unaccounted for,” Van Dop said.
Most of the residents reported the smoke alarms sounding, Van Dop added. “So that’s good. Working smoke alarms save lives.”
Six trucks responded and 25 firefighters tackled the blaze.