Corner Brook woman loses home, pets in house fire


Published on May 8, 2017

“They’re my family.”

Those were some of the few words Marie Martin could barely muster as she tried to absorb the horrifying image before her.

The home she shared with a dozen pets, including nine dogs and three cats, was devastated by fire on Water Street in Corner Brook early Monday afternoon.

Martin had been away from her home at the time. Her daughter, Cynthia Rideout, came to get her to let her know what was happening.

Martin was overcome with emotion when she first saw the gutted house and no sign of any of her beloved animals. The news was then broken to her that four of the pets — two dogs and two cats — had died.

Five more animals, including the third cat, had been retrieved and were safely confined in the City of Corner Brook’s animal control truck. Two of those dogs were resuscitated by the Corner Brook Fire Department.

Three dogs were still unaccounted for as of press time. The hope was that they got scared and ran away.

Martin, who has lived in the small bungalow on Water Street in the Curling part of the city for more than 20 years, said the dogs were not just any dogs. She said the shih tzu mixed breeds were all related to one another in some way and she had collected them.

Martin was too distraught to do an interview, but her daughter spoke to the media at the scene.

Rideout said she found out about the fire via a message on Facebook, asking if her mom was OK. Then she got a phone call about the fire and she raced to get her mom and get to Water Street.

“I can’t even express words, really, right now,” Rideout said of what raced through her mind as she arrived at the scene.

She said her mother was devastated by all she’s lost, including pets, her belongings and her home.

“She’s upset,” said Rideout. “She’s lost absolutely everything.”

A representative from the Newfoundland and Labrador West SPCA was on hand, but didn’t take any of the surviving animals, since Rideout and Martin were able to find accommodations for them all.

The SPCA did urge the public to be on the lookout for the three missing dogs.

Representatives from the Canadian Red Cross also arrived at the scene to offer assistance to Martin.

The scene was to be turned over to the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary later in the afternoon for an investigation into the cause of the blaze, but the fire department had to return later in the afternoon when flames flared up again.

Members of the Corner Brook Fire Department provide oxygen to one of the dogs rescued from a house fire on Water Street in Corner Brook Monday

©Gary Kean/The Western Star

One of the dogs rescued from a house fire on Water Street in Corner Brook Monday sits in a cage overlooking the scene.

©Gary Kean/The Western Star

Firefighters from the Corner Brook Fire Department attack a house fire on Water Street Monday afternoon.

©Marcus J. Smith photo

This small house on Water Street in Corner Brook was gutted by fire early Monday afternoon.

©Gary Kean/The Western Star