Fire victims thankful they weren’t injured

Tenant criticizes fire department for blocked hydrant

Frank Gale
Published on January 29, 2013

STEPHENVILLE — While Scott and Keysha Young lost all their possessions in an apartment fire on Georgia Drive in Stephenville on Friday, they are thankful they weren’t seriously hurt.

Keysha had a close call when she kicked at the door, thinking it was stuck, not knowing there was a fire inside their apartment. She instinctively ducked just a second before the flames came rushing out.

Scott, a short while later trying to deal with the fire in the back of the building, broke out a window. He ended up with cuts on his wrist and was bleeding profusely. Quick action by Lenny Hefferan to rush him to the hospital may have saved him.

RCMP said they responded to the house fire at 97 Georgia Dr. in Stephenville at 7:50 p.m. on Friday. The building contains four apartments and was totally lost to the fire. The adjacent three apartments sustained water and smoke damage.

Police said the apparent cause was an unattended candle left burning in the residence while the resident was outside.

On Monday, there was lots of work taking place at several of the smoke-damaged apartments, with owners taking out possessions they hoped were salvageable.

The Youngs are staying at a local hotel, for which they had four nights paid for courtesy of the Canadian Red Cross, and they said they would have another three nights provided by Social Services.

Wendy Doucette and Eric Slaney, along with their boys Jeffrey and Dawson Slaney, are in the same situation. The family said they don’t know where they will find an apartment within a few days.

Slaney said the family will be able to live in their apartment again, and that an adjoining apartment, in which a young lady was living, will be available for the Youngs. It will be two to three weeks before that apartment will be ready.

“What will (both families) do on Feb. 1?” Doucette asked.

She said they didn’t have any structural damage to their apartment, but everything was smoke damaged and anything that is made of material has to go. That includes their living room furniture, beds and clothing. Their TV, fireplace and dining room set were the only items insured.

The Youngs have insurance, but the young lady living in 95 Georgia didn’t.

A senior lady living in 99 Georgia, which is on the other side of the Youngs’ apartment, was damaged by smoke and water. The woman and her son were moving out her belongings on Monday. She is going to stay with a family member.

Keysha and Wendy had high praise for the Canadian Red Cross representatives from Pasadena, who they knew by first name only as Linda and Sherry, who came out in a storm on Friday night.

They also received support from the Salvation Army, who provided  food vouchers and clothing.

Doucette said there are a number of fundraisers planned to help them out, including one at Lucy’s Lounge in Kippens on Feb. 9 and another at the Stephenville Middle School which is collecting donations. A merchandise bingo and an RBC account are also being set up.

Doucette had some criticism for the Stephenville Fire Department because a hydrant across the road from the apartment wasn’t shoveled out during the blaze.

Fire Chief Wayne Reilly said crews were still operating off the water tank on the truck at the time, and said there was some snow around the hydrant, which was eventually cleaned up and accessible. He said there are 330 fire hydrants in Stephenville and the department can’t keep them all shoveled all the time.

“We try not to have hydrants that are not shoveled, but by the time you get most of them done, others are filled in again,” Reilly said.