Woman ran from burning house in ‘sheer panic’: neighbour

One woman was taken to hospital after a house fire early Friday in Saanich.

Crews were called to the single-family home on Linwood Avenue at Inverness Avenue about 8 a.m. They arrived to heavy smoke and flames coming from the front of the building, said Rob Heppell, assistant deputy chief of the Saanich Fire Department.

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Firefighters started working from the outside to put the fire out before moving to the interior. A search of the building determined that no one was inside.

One resident had been inside when the fire started, according to neighbours, but she escaped before first responders arrived on the scene.

Lauren Waldner lives in a townhouse adjacent to the house. From her deck, which overlooks the house, she watched smoke billowing and flames erupt about 8 a.m. while getting her six-year-old son ready for school.

She turned away from the deck for a moment and “as fast as I could turn around, I saw smoke coming out of there,” she said. “Then instantly flames.”

Waldner saw her neighbour run into the backyard in a towel in “sheer panic.”

“She was back there screaming: ‘Can someone call the fire department,’ ” Waldner said.

Another neighbour grabbed some clothes for the woman and started yelling in case anyone was still inside.

Waldner said at least two people live in the house, but only the woman was home at the time the fire started.

By the time Waldner went outside, first responders had arrived and the resident was taken away by ambulance.

Heppell said the woman was conscious and talking, but might have been exposed to gases from the fire.

For Waldner, the fire was a little close for comfort.

“It’s super close to home. I’m very thankful that they were able to contain it, because I was panicking,” she said.

Investigators were at the scene and will work to determine the cause of the fire once crews have assessed the structural stability of the house.

B.C. Hydro cut power to the area during the blaze, leaving 19 customers in the dark until power was restored at 11 a.m.

regan-elliott@timescolonist.com

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