View Royal fire Chief Paul Hurst is one happy firefighter now that Katrina Van Winkle, the nine-year-old he pulled unconscious from a house fire last week, is home from B.C. Children’s Hospital.
Katrina arrived back on the Island on Sunday, her family told Hurst, who at the time of the blaze feared the child might not survive. “I was so happy for the family, oh my God,” Hurst said Monday. “It’s a huge relief for the firefighters. It was a miracle that the family survived that fire.”
The girl’s grandmother, 58, and great-grandmother, 78, were also injured in the fire early Thursday.
Katrina inhaled smoke and chemicals to the point of cardiac arrest, he said, and she required an airlift to B.C. Children’s from Victoria General.
“She was a very sick little girl when she came out of the house,” Hurst recalled. Firefighters braved black smoke and 700-degree heat to get to the girl — Hurst not wearing his protective equipment. She had been last seen in her basement bedroom but was eventually found on the main floor at the home at 116 Paddock Pl.
Hurst estimated the 2,000-square-foot single-family rancher was “probably 70 per cent destroyed,” with damages estimated at $200,000.
A 911 call from the house suddenly went dead, but Saanich fire dispatchers had gleaned enough information to send View Royal firefighters to the scene, where flames were shooting out of the windows about 3 a.m.
After the rescue, Westshore RCMP Sgt. Max Fossum called Hurst a hero for going in without equipment to drag Katrina out with the help of another firefighter. Hurst resuscitated the girl, who did not have a pulse, on the front lawn. He credited all emergency personnel, from ambulance, hospital staff along with firefighters for the happy outcome.
Fire investigators concluded the fire started in a basement laundry room as a result of materials stored too close to a baseboard heater.
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