All that’s left of Al Earl’s home. (Photo Gerry Leibel)

Saved by his dog, rescued by the kindness of Kitimatians

Al Earl loses everything in a house fire

Al Earl believes that if it hadn’t been for his faithful four-legged friend Tank the outcome of a house fire on Thursday night would have been very different.

Earl said when Tank woke him up the house he is renting was well on fire, thick smoke billowing into the room he was sleeping in.

With no time to grab anything other than Tank, Earl escaped from the house and ran barefoot to a neighbour’s house to call 911.

Even though the Kitimat Fire Department was on scene within minutes, the fire, which Earl said started in a spare room, had already engulfed the home.

The Fire Department was on scene on Friday, making sure any hotspots were extinguished.

A traumatized and exhausted Earl, speaking from his neighbour’s home, said he was amazed at the outpouring of support from close friends, neighbours and ordinary citizens, which had softened the blow of losing everything he owned in the fire.

He said he is incredibly lucky that he and Tank got out unharmed and wanted to thank everyone that has jumped in to help, adding that he already has three pairs of new shoes and more clothes than he had before the fire.

Kitimat Fire Department deputy chief for prevention, Pete Bizarro, said the cause of the fire won’t be known until an investigation has been completed.

He did, however, appeal to residents to ensure that as the mercury drops that they take care when heating their homes, whether by a furnace, fireplace or stand-alone heaters.

Technical Safety BC has provided handy hints for safely heating your home:

Portable electric heaters

* Portable electric heaters should be in good condition. Do not use heaters with damage to their cord or casing.

* Ensure your portable heater is placed in an area with clear space. Keep it three meters away from combustibles such as curtains, bedding, newspapers or laundry.

* Don’t use an extension cord.

* Keep the heater away from any water source.

Boilers

* Check that all ventilation and combustion air openings and louvres are clean and free of debris.

* Verify boiler water level and ensure all stack dampers are open before operation.

* Check the furnace and flue passes for fuel accumulation, and ensure manual fuel valves are open.

Gas appliances

* Have gas-fired appliances inspected and serviced by a licensed gas contractor at least once per year. This includes boilers, furnaces, hot water tanks, stoves, dryers and fireplaces.

* Remember to follow the equipment’s certified user guide or manual.

Fireplaces

* Open a window (even if just a crack) when using a wood-burning fireplace to allow fresh air flow into the room.

* Ensure that carbon monoxide and fire detectors are up-to-date and functioning.

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