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Woman saved from three-story condo blaze thankful for humanity

Click to play video: 'Saskatoon elderly woman saved from condo fire by two neighbours'
Saskatoon elderly woman saved from condo fire by two neighbours
WATCH: A woman in her late 70's, Fran Wakelin said on the morning of May 28, she woke to a man telling her to get out of her building as quickly as possible. Two men who lived together across the hall noticed a blaze burning through the building and immediately thought to help Fran.  – May 30, 2022

Fran Wakelin, a woman in her late 70s, is grateful for the kindness strangers after she was able to escape a fire in her building.

She says she woke on the morning of May 28 to a man telling her to get out of her condo as quickly as possible.

Two men who lived together across the hall had noticed a blaze burning through the building and immediately thought to help her.

Firefighters in Saskatoon rescued many people caught in a fire at a three-story condo building in the Sutherland neighbourhood around midnight on Saturday.

Crews battled the out-of-control fire for hours.

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“These boys never left me, they just never left me,” said Wakelin of her neighbours.

Without her glasses, cellphone, wallet, medication or even her shoes on, out the door she went.

The Salvation Army gave her a place to stay at the Refresh Inn and the men stayed with her to make sure she was safe until her daughter arrived from Alberta the next day.

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“The one boy, he had a quilt from his grandmother and I got it because (the weather) wasn’t warm,” said Wakelin.

But that’s not the end of the generosity she experienced.

The next morning, she said Saskatoon fire vice chief Yvonne Raymer went to the pharmacy to make sure the senior’s prescriptions were refilled. After that, the receptionist at the doctor’s office gave her $1 to pay for a mask and a nurse offered her some clothes.

Then the building manager at Refresh Inn offered to buy her groceries.

“People are so kind and so good and I’m awful thankful for anything,” said Wakelin.

Originally from Saskatoon herself, Wakelin’s daughter Jane said she expected nothing less than love and support from people in her hometown.

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“The outpouring of support has been amazing,” she said of the care her mother has received.

The Salvation Army even extended Wakelin’s stay at the Refresh Inn for three more days, compared to the original three she was first offered.

Twelve families were put into hotels by the organization on Saturday and Mike Hoelt, area commander for the Salvation Army, said they still have two people in their care, one of which is Wakelin.

“We will continue to look after them until we can help them be rehoused and get all of the things they require to set up house somewhere else.”

The fire is estimated to have caused around $5-million in damages, but no one was hurt.

Extraordinary efforts occurred from our fire service and other partners, because of their training, because of their coordinated efforts and because of their quick thinking. There was five rescues performed at this fire. Some of those people had mobility issues in their suites and could not get out. We had to enter a very dangerous situation to rescue these people. Close to 80 staff were involved,” Saskatoon Fire Chief Morgan Hackl said during a Sunday press conference.

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Wakelin said the one thing she was most sad to lose during the fire was a photo of her late husband.

Her daughter mentioned, though, that the two men who helped were strangers before the fire, but now they are family too.

Although Wakelin lost everything she owned, she is staying positive and looks forward to starting over.

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