UPDATE: Dramatic rescues in Saturday morning West Kelowna house fire
“It’s the craziest thing I’ve ever dealt with.”
It might have seemed crazy to Torey Schmidt, but, on Saturday morning, he stepped in to do what most people would refer to as heroic: Singlehandedly rescuing three people from a house fire in West Kelowna.
The bi-level house, located on Guidi Road in the Lakeview Heights area, is a rental unit. Five people were in the upstairs portion, while Schmidt and his son were renting the downstairs area.
Schmidt rescued three of the five, while West Kelowna Fire Rescue rescued the last two, a father and his young son who were overcome by smoke in a bedroom. The son, believed to be six-years-old, was unresponsive when fire crews brought him outside, but recovered when oxygen was applied. The father also needed oxygen. Both were transported to hospital.
In an interview with Global News, Schmidt said “my son and I were making breakfast and I started seeing smoke billowing into my living room. I checked the door that goes (upstairs) and there was smoke everywhere. So I came back around and tried to open the front door and it was locked, so I was banging on the door, trying to wake them up.
“I woke up the little girl and I could hear her screaming from the bathroom window. I went around to the back and she couldn’t get out, so I jumped onto the barbecue and I pulled her out of the bathroom window. And then everybody else started to kind of wake up.
“The guy and the girl that were in the upstairs couldn’t get out of the window and couldn’t get out of the house, so I grabbed a ladder and pulled them out of the master bedroom. (The father and his son) were the last ones in and I tried to get them out, but I couldn’t. I think he was disoriented. The fire department ended pulling them out of the house.”
A neighbour, Dana Hanson, called the life-threatning scenario scary.
“My little boy is friends with the little boy,” said Hanson, who said black smoke was billowing out of a back window at one point. “I’m a nurse at the hospital, so I just kind of went over there, just more for support and try not to get into the firefighters’ way . . . just to help out and help with the oxygen and those kind of things.”
Hanson also said the six-year-old boy was unresponsive when he was rescued, but that “it was nice to see him breathing and opening his eyes before they took him away.”
Asked to describe what the smoke was like, Schmidt called it unbelievable.
“When I was pulling out the guy and the girl from upstairs, when they came out, they were just covered in soot and throwing up out of the window. It was crazy; I’ve never seen smoke like that before,” said Schmidt. “I tried to go in the front door to get the little boy out, and I couldn’t get past the stairs, there was so much smoke.”
Schmidt also said he didn’t hear any smoke alarms.
Notably, it was moving day for the upstairs tenants, and their belongings were packed in a moving ban that was located near the home.
A father and son were rescued by emergency crews after a house fire broke out in West Kelowna this morning.
The fire broke out at approximately 8:30 a.m., on Guidi Road, near Avondale Place, in the Lakeview Heights area. When fire crews first arrived, they said smoke could be seen from the second-floor bedroom.
“It was reported from dispatch that there were people trapped inside the building,” said West Kelowna Fire Rescue assistant fire chief Chad Gartrell. “When (crews) arrived, there were people still inside. Crews made a quick entry up to the second floor for fire control and a primary search to knock that fire down and locate the occupants.
“We found them in the back bedroom. It was a young child and a father. The young child was unresponsive when we first brought him out to the front lawn. Crews had first-aid kits there and immediately started putting oxygen on the child, and he started coming around, coughing and sputtering. B.C. Ambulance then assessed him and transported him to Kelowna General Hospital.
“The adult male was brought out afterwards, again to the front lawn, where they started putting oxygen on him. He started responding as well. There were a couple of other children and occupants in the house as well, but they made it out safely.”
Gartrell said the fire was hot, and that it melted blinds in the bedroom. It’s believed to have started in the kitchen, but the investigation is still ongoing.
In all, Gartrell said three adults and two children were sent to hospital, though another adult and child in the home didn’t need medical attention.
“That was a tough one today,” said West Kelowna Fire Rescue assistant fire chief Chad Gartrell. “The crews responded exactly the way they trained for. They did an incredible job under these tough circumstances.”