'It's terrifying': Stratford family escapes overnight house fire
LONDON, ONT. -- A harrowing ordeal for a Stratford family, as three members of a household escaped an overnight fire on Downie Street by jumping from the second floor.
All four were taken to hospital, including a father, along with a mother and son who escaped through a rear window, and a girl who jumped from a second floor window at the front of the house.
Two members of the family are listed in critical condition, according to the Stratford Fire Department.
Neighbour Andrew Lemay, was falling asleep on his couch when he was awoken by the commotion around 12:30 a.m. Sunday. He says he couldn’t believe what he was seeing when a young girl jumped out the window to save her life.
“It’s terrifying. Plus like, the mother was screaming for her kid, she was terrified. No-one really knew what to do. Like we ran over there. We wanted to know if we could help but the whole bottom of the house was completely engulfed, so.”
Stratford Fire says crews responded just after midnight. In the few minutes it took them to get there the home was already engulfed in flames.
Fire Prevention Director and Fire Investigator Roddy MacDonald says the family had already gotten out of the home by the time they got there, then it was just a matter of knocking the fire down and making sure it didn’t spread to neighbouring houses.
“It was extremely extremely hot when the crews arrived. It was venting out of all windows and doors. The crews, they did a prettty incredible job as far as staging the suppression on a defensive end after they knew that all the people had been out of the house.”
Investigators from the office of the Ontario Fire Marshal were also on scene.
Acting Fire Investigation Supervisor Dave Emberlin tells CTV news they were still sifting through what’s left of the main floor, trying to figure out what caused the fire.
“Originated on the ground floor in the living room. Right now we’re just going through all the debris, trying to narrow down an area of origin, and then look for potential competent ignition sources.”
Stratford fire says the blaze, and how quickly it spread, really underscores the need for every family to have an escape plan. As MacDonald pointed out, the timing comes not just on Thanksgiving weekend, but also at the tail end of Fire Prevention Week.
“Another reminder on the heels of Fire Prevention Week to make sure you have working smoke alarms on all your levels.”
There’s been no estimate on the dollar value of the damage at this time.
As for the occupants, Stratford Fire says they have family to stay with, and members of the community have also reached out to help.