Port Alberni Fire Dept. Is at the scene of a structure fire in the 2600-block of Third Avenue. Third is closed southbound. Please use caution in the area (PAFD photo) Port Alberni Fire Dept. Is at the scene of a structure fire in the 2600-block of Third Avenue. Third is closed southbound. Please use caution in the area (PAFD photo)

Single mom loses everything in Port Alberni house fire

Family hopes three cats got out through a back door

Monica Odenwald left her house on Third Avenue to pick up her daughter from a dance class at 8:30 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 8. Twenty minutes later, she returned to find her house on fire.

“I lived there for 10 years and raised my kids there as a single parent,” the Port Alberni woman said, standing on the boulevard that dissects Third Avenue near Bruce Street and watching firefighters attack the fire from multiple angles.

“I was picking up my daughter from dance…everything seemed fine.”

Port Alberni Fire Department Chief Mike Owens said the two-storey house was already fully involved when crews arrived shortly after receiving a call at 8:48 p.m.

“When we arrived on scene there was heavy fire and smoke already,” Owens said. “Our crews went to work right away trying to suppress the fire and contain it to the building of origin.”

There was some concern that the fire might spread to the house immediately south of Odenwald’s because it is so close. “We were successful in preventing the fire from spreading to that house,” he said.

“It’s a stubborn, entrenched fire right now.” Crews had the ladder up and were trying to get some different vantage points to suppress the flames that were still burning through the roof more than an hour after firefighters arrived on scene.

Neighbours and people who had seen the fire and called 911 lined the sidewalk across from the house. “I used to live in that house in Grade 5,” said Aaron Franks. He and his mother and two younger brothers spent a year living in the house. He pointed to a window where flames could still be seen: “That used to be my bedroom,” he said.

Selena Garcia lives on Fourth Avenue but saw the flames and thought the house immediately behind her was on fire. Garcia and other neighbours were concerned for Odenwald’s three cats, who hadn’t been seen since the fire broke out.

“I just hope my cats are OK,” Odenwald said. “If anyone around this neighbourhood around Bruce Street has seen my little black, fluffy cat, or my big grey fluffy cat, or my tabby cat, I hope they made it out the back.”

She asked if anyone spots her cats to call the Alberni-Clayoquot branch of the SPCA (250-723-5269).

Odenwald lost her job last October and had recently started a new one, working from home. “Hopefully I find a place to work from,” she said. She was waiting for someone from emergency services to come and talk to her about a place to stay for the night. One of her neighbours brought a blanket for her to put over her hoodie, so she would stay warm.

“I’m not sure of the cause of the fire…it’s an older house, built in 1955. It’s been a good house. A lot of memories there. But nothing left of it.”



susie.quinn@albernivalleynews.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

 

Firefighters from Port Alberni Fire Department attack a stubborn house fire in the 2600-block of Third Avenue on Wednesday, Jan. 8, 2020. No one was in the home at the time of the fire. (SUSAN QUINN/Alberni Valley News)

Just Posted

Island riders conquering new heights

With no races, cyclists tackle Everest challenge to lift community

Saanich police search for suspect accused of using stolen credit, debit cards

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers says suspect made numerous fraudulent purchases

Homeless woman sentenced to 18 months in jail for selling drugs to Victoria police officer

Officer paid $20 for a substance consisting of heroin, fentanyl and caffeine

Family restaurant to hold Saturday fundraiser for Beirut blast

Wrap and Roll will donate all sales to victims of blast

Police looking for witnesses of alleged assault in Burnside Gorge’s Cecila Ravine

Concerned woman pushed to the ground, had phone broken while taking a photo of a dog

53 new COVID-19 cases, no new deaths cap off week of high infection rates in B.C.

Roughly 1,500 people are self-isolating because they either have COVID-19 or have been exposed to it

Fitness non-profit challenges citizens to invent a game to be physically active

The campaign was launched after a study showed only 4.8 per cent of children and youths in Canada met required standards of the 24-hour movement guidelines

VIDEO: U.S. Air Force pilot does fly-by for B.C. son amid COVID border separation

Sky-high father-son visit plays out over White Rock Pier

3 Vancouver police officers test positive for COVID after responding to large party

Union president says other officers are self-isolating due to possible exposure

Vancouver Island team takes on wacky challenges of world’s largest scavenger hunt

Greatest International Scavenger Hunt taking place Aug. 1-8

New mothers with COVID-19 should still breastfeed: Canada’s top doctor

Dr. Theresa Tam made the recommendation during World Breastfeeding Awareness Week

Collapse of Nunavut ice shelf ‘like losing a good friend:’ glaciologist

The ice shelf on the northwestern edge of Ellesmere Island has shrunk 43 per cent

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers wanted list for the week of Aug. 4

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

POLL: Should it be mandatory to wear masks when out in public?

B.C. is witnessing an alarming rise in the number of cases of… Continue reading

Most Read