A pregnant Cariboo-area firefighter is recovering after trying to save her own house from a fire Monday night.
“Yesterday [Tuesday] I was really sore because my adrenalin was just pushing me through, but today is better,” said 25-year-old Julia Flinton who is expecting a baby girl on March 28. Flinton told Black Press she has had to take it easy because of concerns she could go into labour pre-term.
Flinton and her partner, Anthony Sellars, are receiving a surge of support from their hockey and firefighting communities after losing everything in the house fire Monday evening at Deep Creek, just north of Williams Lake.
Flinton was home alone while Sellars was at work when the fire broke out.
“I had lit the wood stove, left the door open to let some air flow in, and gone upstairs to put away groceries and smelled something that wasn’t wood smoke and came back downstairs,” she said.
“I tried to put the couch out with buckets of water, but it just got too big too fast. I grabbed our puppy and keys and got out of the house.”
One of Sellars’ uncles arrived and tried using the fire extinguisher to put it out, but the fire was growing too rapidly.
“Anthony works about 10 minutes away and by the time he got home there were flames outside of the house,” Flinton said.
Both the Wildwood Volunteer Fire Department and the Williams Lake Fire Department attended the fire.
Flinton said she fought fires all summer before she discovered she was 13 weeks pregnant in September.
“I had no idea and just thought I was overtired from work.”
Flinton said they had been procrastinating buying baby things, which was fortunate.
“We had a few gifts, but nothing substantial which we were quite relieved about after the fire.”
“We actually had a few boxes that we had not brought back into the house from the 2017 [wildfire] evacuation because we were both working on fires. It was a huge relief because even though we did lose everything else there is still some stuff of value to us that has a lot of memories that we still have.”
Sellars has been on the Ravens Unit firefighting crew for seven years, and is working through the winter to complete his hours to become a Red Seal carpenter.
Flinton was with the Ravens for three years, with Vesta crew before that, and this past summer was with CIFAC in Williams Lake.
“I am working with the BC Wildfire Service right now as an auxiliary doing claims,” she said.
Flinton moved home to Williams Lake in recent years after spending 10 years away from her hometown to pursue her dreams of a hockey career abroad.
In 2014, Flinton and her Huskies teammates won a bronze medal at the Canadian Interuniversity Sport (CIS) women’s hockey championships. She’s also been a member of the CIS Canadian women’s team and competed at the 2015 Winter Universiade in Granada, Spain.
In 2018, she was an assistant coach for the Williams Lake Midget Female Timberwolves team — the first women’s team from Williams Lake to win a provincial gold medal.
Flinton said when she moved home she wanted to give back to the community through the sport of hockey.
Flinton said she and Sellars share a love for the sport of hockey.
Sellars plays hockey for Aboriginal teams in the area.
A GoFundMe campaign created by a staff member at the Cariboo Fire Centre Tuesday saw cash donations pouring in for the couple.
As of Wednesday morning, $3,500 of the $5,000 GoFundMe goal had been raised in under 24 hours.
“Bad things happen to good people,” one person said in pledging support to the $5,000 fundraising goal.
Flinton said the support has definitely been “overwhelming and amazing.”
For now they are staying with Sellars’ father two doors down from where they were living.
“We have three dogs and a cat so it makes it easier,” Flinton said, noting the home lost in the fire was Sellars’ grandmother’s house.
“After Anthony’s grandmother passed away a few years ago he moved in.”