A paradise vacation in the Dominican Republic turned into a nightmare for an Alberta family, who says a fire tore through their resort hotel room with their three year old daughter inside, knocking the toddler unconscious.
The father turned to social media to share the story, pleading for help to get his daughter back to Canada.
Harley Horne said his family booked a WestJet vacation to stay at the Iberostar Baravo resort.
Horne said he and his wife noticed a ‘funny metallic smell’ when they entered the suite, but didn’t think much of it at the time.
They enjoyed some time at the resort before going back to their room, when Horne decided to go down to the casino shortly before midnight.
About half an hour later, he said his wife went down to check and see when he was coming back and left their young daughter alone in the room.
That’s when an apparent electrical fire broke out.
“Five minutes after [my wife] checked in on me and went back to the suite, I was summoned by the screams of hotel staff shouting my name throughout the resort casino,” Horne said in the post.
He said he ran with the staff members to a small room near the main building, where he saw his wife holding his unconscious daughter.
“My daughter was lifeless, unresponsive and covered in the blackest soot from head to toe.”
The hotel doctor was able to resuscitate her, and that’s when Horne went back to the room to grab their passports and travel documents.
“I saw thick black smoke pouring out all of the kicked in doors as well as flames glowing inside one of the rooms adjacent to ours,” Horne said. “There were 15 or so hotel staff with plastic goggles on fighting the fire with fire extinguishers.”
The toddler was then rushed to the intensive care unit (ICU) at a local hospital.
Iberostar responded to a Global News request for comment Tuesday afternoon, saying the hotel and resort company was deeply saddened by the incident on Nov. 16.
“Our teams on the ground moved swiftly to contain the situation,” the statement reads. “From the moment we learned about the incident, our priority has been the well-being of those immediately affected to ensure our guests receive prompt medical, security and logistical support.”
The spokesperson said staff will continue to monitor the situation, “work with local authorities and advance our investigation on the causes of the incident.”
Horne posted his account of the story on social media — praising the helpful staff as well as blasting WestJet and Iberostar—but also pleading for someone to help fly their family back to Canada.
Calgary owned and operated air ambulance providers Integra Air and Aeromedical saw that plea online and jumped into help.
“Somebody had to. If it was me or my family, I’d hope somebody would do the same for us.” Integra Air CEO John Macek said.
“It’s just the right thing to do.”
It cost the companies about $50,000 to fly the family home, but both CEOs said the price tag never factored into their decision.
“It never entered any of our discussions,” Aeromedical CEO Gord Burnell said. “We just decided to do it pro bono. We knew it would be ages before family can leave the Dominican Republic, so we thought let’s do it.”
WestJet said it was a terrible situation for the family and hoped “for a speedy and full recovery for their daughter.”
“We have been in constant contact with the family with two WestJet Vacations destinations managers assisting in the Dominican Republic. WestJet is working with Iberostar and local authorities as they conduct their investigation into the fire.”
The family has told Global News they were in talks with a lawyer Tuesday morning.
-with files from Sarah Kraus
© 2017 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.