Family homeless after morning fire

Bell Street blaze started around 4 a.m. Wednesday in northern Mission

Katelyn Gagnon clings to the only Christmas gift that was salvaged from her home after an early morning fire Wednesday.

Katelyn Gagnon was dreaming of hosting a large Christmas dinner for family and friends at her Stave Falls home when she was awakened Wednesday morning by shouts from her common-law husband, Ryan.

The house was on fire.

He grabbed the couple’s two-year-old son, Hunter, and Katelyn reached for blankets, cellphones and bolted towards the exit.

Flames were rolling into the house from the roof as the trio ran to the front door, but fire blocked their path. Katelyn could feel melting tar drip onto her skin as they jumped out a nearby window one by one.

Within minutes, the house was engulfed in flames, and shock settled in.

It was 4 a.m. and cold. Snow that had fallen earlier in the day was still clinging to the ground on their Bell Street property.

Beyond distraught, Katelyn called 911 and yelled at the dispatcher. A normal two-minute walk to the end of her driveway took 20 minutes.

There was propane and a lot of ammunition stored in the garage, and they wanted to get far away if anything detonated.

It was the initial explosion that had roused Ryan, who discovered the fire when he got out of bed to investigate.

The blast woke their neighbours as well, and they offered warm clothing and blankets to Katelyn and her family.

“I’m still shaking,” said Katelyn, more than six hours after fleeing her home. “I feel like Christmas has been taken from me; my house has been taken from me.”

Because of the trees around the property, Mission firefighters encountered challenges to get a water supply, and crews had to use hand lines, said Fire Chief Larry Watkinson.

Afterwards, firefighters went back inside the house to salvage what they could for they family. They brought out baskets of clothes, and a wrapped Christmas present.

The family won’t be allowed on the property until investigators finish their work.

It appears the fire started at the south end of the property, where the garage is located, said Capt. Mike Schmidt, fire prevention officer.

“It’s pretty heart-wrenching,” said Katelyn.

Renting the home for more than three years, the family will be put up in a hotel for three days by emergency services, and Katelyn doesn’t know where they’ll go after that.

She’s not sure how she’ll explain the loss to Hunter and her six-year-old son, who was sleeping at a friend’s house when the fire occurred.

They are thankful nobody was injured, but don’t have content insurance to cover their losses and will be relying on their friends and family for support to get them through the holiday season.

Just Posted

Sanjay Gulati is leaving the Mission Community Services Society

Executive director taking a new position in Ireland

Fraser Health reminds parents to get their kids fully vaccinated against measles

Health authority will send letters home to parents with catch-up program information

Mission RCMP reminds public to lock car doors

April is Auto Crime Enforcement Month

PHOTOS: Thousands attend Mission Elks Easter Egg Hunt

The quest for candy and chocolate brought out a huge crowd of kids and parents to the family event

Gas prices in Metro Vancouver hit $1.72 a litre

And one analyst expects it to only go higher this week

What’s age got to do with it? B.C. couple with 45-year gap talks happy marriage

An Armstrong couple that has 45-year age gap began turning heads after being featured on show Extreme Love.

WATCH: South Vancouver Island shooting an ‘isolated and targeted’ incident, say police

One person in custody, another fled following shooting and crash on West Shore

Woe, Canada: Bruins down Maple Leafs 5-1 in Game 7

No Canadian teams left in Stanley Cup playoffs

Defence accuses officer of ‘incompetence’ in trial for B.C. man accused in daughters’ murder

Double murder trial for the Victoria father accused of killing his two young daughters continues

Should B.C. parents receive money if they make sure their kids are vaccinated?

New survey looks at public opinion around government’s role in forcing immunizations

Loud jets from Abbotsford are annoying residents of tiny U.S. town

Flights out of Abbotsford airport turn over border town and annoy residents, Sumas mayor says

Olympic auditions return to Lower Mainland

Event an opportunity for unknown athletes to shine and, maybe, change sports

B.C. men challenge constitutionality of Canada’s secret no-fly list

Parvkar Singh Dulai says he received a “denial of boarding” notification under the no-fly program last May 17

Murder on B.C. property didn’t need to be disclosed before sale, court rules

Buyer had tried to break contract after learning a man with ties to crime had been murdered there

Most Read