CORNER BROOK — There’s a lot of pretend horror happening as Halloween approaches, but Saturday morning provided an all too real scare for Rita MacDonald and her home care worker Carol Steeves.
As she usually does, Steeves arrived at MacDonald’s home on Country Road in Corner Brook at around 8 a.m. to help the senior citizen bathe, dress and start her day.
After washing, Steeves went to the kitchen to begin making breakfast. She turned on the stove and then went to the washroom adjacent to the first-floor kitchen to help MacDonald finish dressing.
As they were doing that, the two heard a crackling noise. MacDonald returned to the kitchen to find the range hood crashed down onto the activated stove elements and flames and smoke beginning to fill the house.
She tried to extinguish the flames, but quickly realized it was too much to handle. She and MacDonald needed to evacuate.
She called 9-1-1 and the two exited into the crispy cold outside air. They never had their coats and were wearing only slippers.
By the time the Corner Brook Fire Department arrived shortly thereafter, the flames in the kitchen could be seen from outside the home. The fire was knocked down quickly, but not before causing extensive damage to the kitchen and dining room areas.
For MacDonald, who requires a walker for mobility and uses a stair lift device to get down from her second-floor bedroom, the ordeal was a frightening one.
“The smoke was very strong,” she said. “Where I can’t move very fast, it was kind of spooky getting out of the house.”
She was just thankful she wasn’t still upstairs when the fire began.
“I was lucky,” said MacDonald, who seemed in relatively good spirits as she and Steeves kept warm in the home care worker’s car, watching the fire department deal with the incident.
A neighbour who had seen what was happening invited them into their house to get warm. MacDonald was wrapped in a fire department blanket as she later sat in the car watching the emergency crew deal with the fire.
Steeves, who had a minor burn on her hand from her vain attempt to doubt the fire, was also counting their lucky stars.
“I was scared for her more than anything,” she said. “I just barely got her out. I’m glad we never had too far to go because she walks at a snail’s pace. The smoke was just roaring around us and I was having such a hard time to breathe.”
Deputy fire chief Bill Griffin was at the scene. He said there was extensive smoke, water and heat damage throughout the house, even though the fire damage was limited to the kitchen and washroom area.
“Our guys did a really good front-line attack and we were lucky enough to hit it front on,” said Griffin. “These old homes are a little bit of a challenge because there’s not much of a roof area. We have to get it before it gets up there because the space up there is very limited.”
MacDonald has lived at the corner of Country Road and Notre Dame Street since 1960. She said she would likely go live with her son until she figures out what will happen from here.