Twelve dogs die in house fire south of Nanaimo

  - File photo
— image credit: File photo

Two people were rendered homeless after a fire broke out in a residence that destroyed two homes and a storage facility.

Jacquelyn Neuwirth, a tenant of one of the homes lost all of her belongings to the blaze. Her two dogs and 10 out a litter of 14 puppies died as well.

The blaze happened Jan. 4 at about 2 a.m. at 790 Nanaimo River Rd. in Extension, a rural community south of Nanaimo, when a friend allegedly tried to ignite a fire in a wood stove with gasoline. Neuwirth said flames engulfed the interior of the home in seconds.

“She had a gas can that she was using to light it with and it caught on fire and she panicked and she threw it and it caught onto the curtains … they just caught right away and then that was that,” Neuwirth said.

Neuwirth said she and two friends had come home late, the temperature outside was -6 C and the puppies were cold, which might have prompted her friend to use gasoline to try and get a fire started quickly.

Fire quickly spread to another residence and storage facility on the property.

Doug Gardiner, Regional District of Nanaimo fire services coordinator, said the buildings were fully involved in flame by the time fire crews from Extension Volunteer Fire Department arrived. Access to the fire scene was also hindered by an unlicensed pickup truck that had to be moved.

“Ultimately they had to hook onto it and drag it out of there to get at the property,” Gardiner said.

With no chance to save the buildings, firefighters opted to keep the fire from spreading to surrounding structures.

Cranberry Volunteer Fire Department provided mutual aid by trucking water to the site.

Neither Neuwirth or the owner of the destroyed buildings had insurance.

Neuwirth has been given temporary lodging in the Coast Bastion Inn through the Regional District of Nanaimo’s Emergency Social Services Disaster Assistance program and the Red Cross, where she said she will have a room until Saturday (Jan. 14). She said the property owner has moved into another building on the property.

The surviving puppies are in foster care through the Nanaimo branch of the B.C. SPCA.

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