Good samaritans help at house fire

A house fire in Forest Grove on April 30 had passers-by grabbing garden hoses and helping to control the blaze

Jeremy Quesnel of 103 Mile sprayed water from a garden hose onto a house fire at Forest Grove to help contain the spread of flames. Three other men also stopped to help control the flames

Jeremy Quesnel of 103 Mile sprayed water from a garden hose onto a house fire at Forest Grove to help contain the spread of flames. Three other men also stopped to help control the flames

A raging house fire in Forest Grove on April 30 had passers-by grabbing garden hoses and helping to control the blaze until volunteer firefighters arrived.

Amanda Upson-Quesnel says she and her husband, Jeremy Quesnel, of 103 Mile were driving along Canim-Hendrix Lake Road just before noon when they saw black smoke rising from a residence directly across from the Forest Grove Post Office.

She explains they had just passed by five minutes earlier and the house appeared fine, but on the way back, the porch was fully engulfed by flames, so they stopped and Quesnel jumped out to help.

“He knew what to do. He was part of the fire department when we lived in Forest Grove.”

She says someone had called 9-1-1 and saw Bob Allen was on site setting up a garden hose at the residence.

Her husband then ran next door where a neighbour allowed him to hook up a second hose to join the efforts, Upson-Quesnel adds.

While the two men fought the blazing porch, which blocked access to the residence, she notes Ken Pincott arrived and after rescuing a dog he found tied to the house, took over the garden hose efforts for Allen and worked alongside Quesnel.

Meanwhile, it wasn’t known if any occupants were in the burning house, where Upson-Quesnel says it was known a family with a young child resided.

“My husband tried to get into the basement, but it was too hot.”

She says a conservation officer arrived and managed to enter the house once the other men had gotten the porch fire doused, while the attic space continued to blaze.

“So [the CO] tried to go into the house to make sure nobody was in there … I’m pretty sure he made it upstairs to make sure.”

The child was later determined to be at school when the parents arrived a short time later, she adds.

Forest Grove Volunteer Fire Department (FGVFD) members were on scene about 10-15 minutes after the 103 residents had stopped to help, Upson-Quesnel says.

Since the porch fire was out by then, she says the firefighters appeared to focus their efforts on ensuring there were no occupants in the house and hosing down the attic space.

The FGVFD chief Bob Felker was unavailable to comment before press time.

However, 100 Mile House Fire-Rescue chief Darrell Blades says he dispatched two trucks and nine members to provide mutual aid.

Upson-Quesnel adds concerned neighbours watched from a safe distance across the street, including someone running a daycare in a house next door, along with the visibly frightened children.

Once the fire was under control her husband stayed to assist, who she says was on scene for about an hour total, but Quesnel is downplaying his role in the incident.

“He doesn’t think it’s a big deal. We were at the right place at the right time.”