The iconic home of a famed woodcarver in B.C.’s East Kootenay has been destroyed by fire.
Rolf Heer, in the community of Radium north of Invermere, was pulled safely out the Home of a Thousand Faces, as firefighters tried to fight off the encroaching flames.
The all-wood home has become a roadside attraction, surrounded by several life-sized wood carvings – many of them done with a chainsaw. It was even featured on an episode of the HGTV show, “Weird Homes.”
Heer suffers from terminal cancer and had put the home up for sale.
“Forty years of history down the drain,” he said, shivering in a fuzzy pink housecoat. “I don’t know how I’m going to handle this. I might be crying for three weeks.”
He said he had a fire outside the night before that must have gotten out of control.
Gary and Sherry Froescul of Sherwood Park, Alta., had driven past the home on Friday morning and noticed the flames. They drove to a Petro-Canada gas station where one of the employees called 911.
“Within five or 10 minutes, the whole thing was engulfed,” Gary said.
Heer lived in his showroom. For 40 years, he had welcomed residents and tourists into his home to see his wood carvings, play in his outdoor water park and feed the goats that lived on his roof.
Said Heer’s friend, Holly Hahn: “There was nothing like this in the world. I’m sad for all the children who used to come here.”
All that saved were a few paintings, his robes, a bit of cash and his prized wizard hats.
Heer was hoping to find a woodcarver to take over the business. He had no insurance.
He alternated between laughing and choking up as neighbours, friends, police and firefighters expressed their condolences, doled out hugs and brought him food.
But the beloved wizard was all smiles as he asked for a photo to capture the end of an era, going out with a blaze.