Vickie Bellingham stands in borrowed clothes, surveys charred and twisted debris and says she’s grateful she didn’t have her grandchildren stay over the night fire wiped out her home Monday.
North Oyster Volunteer Fire Department was first to respond to the 911 call she made just after 5 a.m. when the family dogs’ barking awakened her and her husband Mark to the sight of their mobile home ablaze on Hill Road, located in Ladysmith’s North Oyster district.
The couple was sleeping in a cabin they call the summer studio, just a few metres away from their mobile home that was under renovation.
She scans the debris for any sight of the keys to their Volvo, which they haven’t been able to move since the keys were lost in the fire.
“The dogs were barking. That’s what woke us up,” Mark said. “As soon as we sat up we could see that the back porch was on fire.”
Don Grinnell, Vickie’s father, who lives next door, was also roused by his dog Kona’s frantic barking and scratching at the door.
“By the time I looked outside, the fire was already through the roof,” he said.
Mark ran out and started putting water on the fire to prevent it spreading to the summer studio as flames boiled through the mobile home. Rain the night before had soaked down the forest around the structures, which bought time for firefighters to arrive and save surrounding structures. Charred trees and fences and melted window frames on the summer studio testify to the fire’s intensity.
Tony Marcotte, North Oyster Volunteer Fire Department deputy fire chief, was first on scene with a crew.
“Unfortunately when you’re dealing with something like a fully-involved mobile there’s really nothing left to save.” Marcotte said. “Thankfully the people were out.”
Ladysmith Fire Rescue and Cranberry Volunteer Fire Department assisted with extra equipment and manpower.
The cause of the blaze is under investigation.
Vickie jokes with her daughter Lindsey that there must be 200 head of roast garlic that they’d just harvested in what was her kitchen. As the Bellinghams come to grips with the trauma – Mark said they both still saw the flames when they close their eyes – they’re in the process of dealing with their insurance company, gathering clothes to wear for the time being and trying to salvage anything they can from the ruins, especially a fireproof safe with their passports and other important items.
“The credit union, they gave us this wonderful box of toothbrushes and all the toiletries and everything in it. They were just amazing,” Vickie said. “Just so many wonderful people have been kind. It reminds you that you’re really part of the community.”