Twelve people displaced in a fire that damaged two Saanich homes

Twelve people have been displaced after a fire Saturday evening in Saanich that damaged two houses.

Lyra McLean was sitting in her living room with her husband and four children when she noticed a warm flicker in the window out of the corner of her eye.

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She went to the window and saw that the gate that connects her house to her neighbour’s home was on fire. She and her husband, Adam McLean, jumped into crisis mode, grabbing their children, their dog and running out the door and across the street to safety. They called 911.

Then Adam McLean ran to the neighbour’s house through their carport, which was on fire, Lyra McLean said. He found the mother and two daughters inside, unaware of the flames. He brought the two girls outside, thinking their mother was right behind him, but she had gone to find the family’s dog.

He went back in and alerted the father, who was barbecuing in the backyard and helped the mother out to the street. The barbecue was not related to the fire, Lyra McLean said.

There was a lot of confusion trying to ensure everyone got out safely, including two tenants in the basement suite, she said. All 12 people, three dogs and a cat escaped without injury as the fire spread.

Within about a minute of noticing that first flicker, the side of their house was engulfed in flames and the gas line had ruptured, Lyra McLean said.

“So that was really scary for me, because my husband went obviously back into their house. My kids were very, very scared,” she said.

Fire crews and police were called around 7 p.m. to Carnegie Crescent, near Shelbourne Street and McKenzie Avenue.

They arrived quickly, and firefighters knocked down the flames.

“The response time of the police and the fire department was huge,” Lyra McLean said. “They told us afterward that a fire doubles every minute. And I believe it now because I saw what happened in 30 seconds.

“And they said if they weren’t here for, if there was another minute or two delay, we would have lost the entire home.”

Out on the street, neighbours offered the family blankets, hot cocoa and the socks off their feet, she said. Her children, ages two to 12, were in their pyjamas. “It was just a lot of really nice support.”

On Sunday, the couple was allowed back into the home to pack up what they need. The living room is under an inch of water and the roof is open. The family is heading to a hotel for a few weeks, and they aren’t sure what will happen after that. Lyra McLean said she’s been told the house will take about four months to repair.

She can’t help thinking that the fire could have been a lot more damaging if she hadn’t noticed the flames when she did. She’s often putting her two youngest children to bed about 7 p.m.

“We were very centralized in the home and I was seated facing the direction of the fire. There are a lot of things that happen that, they happened so right for us to get out safe. If they hadn’t happened like that, I don’t know, because it was really fast,” she said.

Investigators are still working to determine the cause.

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