A family of five has been displace by a house fire in Nanaimo and their pets have yet to be accounted for.
The fire broke out in a home in the 2200 block of East Wellington Road on Monday afternoon shortly after 2 p.m.
Next-door neighbour Shelbey Brinacomb said she was working in her garden when she smelled something burning and saw the small home was on fire.
“I just looked and there was flames coming up through the floor and the window and I could just hear the little dog barking inside,” Brinacomb said. “I just tried to open the door and it was locked.”
Brinacomb used as stick to break glass in the door, wrapped her hand in a rag, reached in to unlock the door and then started calling into the burning home to see if anyone would answer.
“[I was] trying to call the dog and anybody who’s in the house,” she said. “I was on the phone with 911 and they said they were coming and I wasn’t about to walk into the house. I didn’t know what the heck to do, so I just ran out onto the street and I started screaming for help, ‘Anybody, help, please. My neighbour’s house is on fire.”
Three construction workers, building new homes on nearby Swanson Road, responded, grabbed garden hoses and buckets and started throwing water onto the flames until firefighters arrived.
Brinacomb and one of the construction workers were checked out by B.C. Ambulance paramedics for minor smoke inhalation, but did not require treatment.
None of the family of five were in the home at the time of the fire.
Capt. Ennis Mond, Nanaimo Fire Rescue chief fire prevention officer, who investigated the fire, said a cat and dog had not been accounted for as of Tuesday morning.
“We left a door open because they lost a dog and a cat in there,” Mond said.
The cat was seen around the time of the fire and may have escaped. The dog, which is reportedly 18 years old, deaf and blind, has not been located.
Firefighters also had to return to the home later in the evening, about 6 p.m., to snuff out a fibre board ceiling tile that had continued to smoulder.
Mond said the fire started in lint buildup in a clothes dryer exhaust duct. He said lint filter was cleared regularly, but the dryer was part of a stacking washer and dryer set and was located where it is difficult to clean lint buildup from the machine’s ducting. Fire was contained to the kitchen area, but there is heavy smoke damge throughout the house.
“These ones were built in, like an old shelving unit, and I’ve seen them in closets and stuff like that, so they’re really hard to get in behind to clean out where the exhaust duct goes … this thing was probably pretty loaded up when it went and, being stacked, it’s closer to the ceiling and the top of the dryer basically burned off and ignited the donnacona ceiling,” Mond said.
He said there were no known working smoke alarms in the home.
B.C. Hydro disconnected electrical service to the house.
The house is insured, but the residents did not have insurance, he said.