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Teens saved from fire at Cedar home

Aug 07 2012
Cedar, Vancouver Island 

Cedar, Vancouver Island

Photograph by: Staff , timescolonist.com

Neighbours rescued three teens from a fire that destroyed the Cedar home where they were sleeping Sunday morning.

Eric and Wendy Kennedy had just sat down with their coffee Sunday at 9: 30 a.m. when they heard a loud explosion. "It sounded like a jet engine out in the front yard, blowing," said Wendy Kennedy on Monday.

Eric, a former member of the local fire department, ran outside and saw the neighbour's house was on fire. He told Wendy to call 911 while he ran to the house.

The back deck was on fire and smoke was billowing above.

Eric tried the front door and found it open. "He just ran right in and started yelling," said Wendy.

Eric ran around back to see if he could do anything about the spreading flames. Two teenage girls were roused and stumbled out, half-asleep and confused. A few minutes later, the girls mentioned that a friend was still inside the house, a male youth who was sleeping in the basement.

Neighbour Paul Amann banged on the locked bedroom door where the youth was sleeping, then kicked the door in and got him out.

When the North Cedar Volunteer Fire Department arrived, about 10 minutes later, the entire roof was on fire, but all three young people were out of the house.

One of the girls lives with the homeowners, who were both away, while the other two are her friends.

Firefighters extinguished the blaze, but the roof of the home had burned through and much of the structure was damaged by fire, smoke and water.

Neighbours called one of the homeowners, who was camping up-Island. She expressed dismay at the prospect of losing a lifetime of photographs and gave permission for neighbours to go inside the home, after the fire department left, to retrieve the photos.

"All the neighbours rallied together and helped get valuables out of the house, like the pictures that were priceless and couldn't be replaced," said neighbour Lila Cugina.

While Cugina and others separated and dabbed photos dry on the front lawn, other neighbours kept the workers supplied with sandwiches and drinking water.

"The whole front yard was full of pictures that we dabbed and dried off," said Cugina.

Even the couple's wedding photos were saved, she said.

"That's our neighbourhood all the way - everybody knows everybody on our little cul-de-sac," said Cugina.

"We know everybody, everybody feeds everybody else's cats when they go away and we've watched everybody else's kids grow up."

Only two photos out of the couple's collection were ruined, she said.

Neighbours also moved the couple's vehicles and a boat out of the garage.

The homeowner "kept thanking us but we said, 'You don't have to thank us; we know you'd do the same for us,' " said Cugina.

The cause of the fire is under investigation.

Early last month, Amann suffered a loss of his own when his daughter, Jaedyn Amann-Hicks, died after she was crushed by a falling soccer net in Watson Lake, Yukon.

smcculloch@timescolonist.com

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