Two people who suffered severe burns were released from hospital a month after they survived a family Christmas Eve celebration that went horribly wrong.
Bob and Liz Fleming were having fondue with their daughter, Alex, in her Nanaimo home when spilled fuel ignited, setting fire to the Christmas tree, then the couch and finally the Mach-leary Street house.
At one point Alex returned into the burning building in a failed attempt to locate and rescue her pet cat and lizard.
The public rallied to raise funds and furniture for Alex, who lost everything.
Her father said she did not wish to speak publicly about her ordeal.
Her parents are glad to finally be back in their Bowser home.
Liz got the worst of it, with second-and third-degree burns to her face, hands, back and left arm and leg.
"It was pretty surreal," Liz said. "Here we are, happily going along our way, having a wonderful dinner. I'm in the kitchen and I'm hearing this commotion, and I come out and it was: 'What?
This can't be - it's Christmas Eve."
The educational assistant with School District 69 spent a month in the burn unit.
Bob spent some of that time staying at the Victoria firefighters' burn house. Liz had to have skin grafts to her left hand and arm.
She is undergoing physiotherapy to regain use of her hands, and still has pain from her injuries.
The worst part was spending Christmas in Royal Jubilee Hospital, which she intended to share with her daughter.
"We were going to spend three or four days together," she said. "I was looking forward to some quality time and cooking together. We both work and never have a chance to do that.
The house had no smoke detectors, although that wouldn't have made a difference, since they were there when the fire erupted. One lesson from the fire is not to return to a burning building, "Get out, close the doors behind you and call the fire department," said Nanaimo fire inspector Ennis Mond.
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