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

Robert Barron column: Winter can be hard, but it brings back good memories

I would carefully poke the handle of the shovel through the snow until it bumped into a solid object

Andrea Rondeau column: What are your time capsule must-haves?

It would also be fun to include some pop culture mementos that represent our time.

Climbers compete for Choc and Chalk

Annual competition attracts more than 100

Sarah Simpson Column: Social media mobilized to identify found film photo

Over the course of the day, the post generated a couple of hundred responses.

Skating at the Gardens

Duncan Skating Club entertains at Butchart Gardens

‘Like an ATM’: World’s first biometric opioid-dispensing machine launches in B.C.

First-of-its-kind dispensing machine unveiled in the Downtown Eastside with hopes of curbing overdose deaths

Canucks extend home win streak to 8 with 4-1 triumph over Sharks

Victory lifts Vancouver into top spot in NHL’s Pacific Division

BC Green Party leader visits northern B.C. pipeline protest site

Adam Olsen calls for better relationship between Canada, British Columbia and First Nations

‘Extensive’ work planned at Big Bar landslide ahead of salmon, steelhead migration

Fisheries Minister Bernadette Jordan visited the site of the slide from June

B.C. society calls out conservation officer after dropping off bear cub covered in ice

Ice can be seen in video matted into emaciated bear cub’s fur

Royal deal clears way for Harry, Meghan part-time Canada move: experts

Keith Roy of the Monarchist League of Canada said the deal is exactly what Harry and Meghan asked for

Horgan cancels event in northern B.C. due to security concerns, says Fraser Lake mayor

The premier will still be visiting the city, but the location and day will not be made public

B.C. landlord sentenced to two years in jail for torching his own rental property

Wei Li was convicted of intentionally lighting his rental property on fire in October 2017

Most Read