Last week, Lorraina Paul, owner of her own cleaning business, decided to clean the residence of one of her regular customers in the morning, rather than the afternoon. As it turned out, this decision likely saved the entire home from going up in flames.
While she was cleaning in the living room, Paul heard a loud pop sound coming from the kitchen. After further investigation, she discovered smoke coming from in behind the fridge and smelled what appeared to be burning plastic.
“I just stood there in disbelief and thought ‘no way, this can’t be happening’,” she said.
She quickly dialled 9-1-1 and was redirected to the fire department but that proved to be of no help to her situation, as the department told her they weren’t able to help.
“Then panic set in, because I thought there was no way I can handle standing here watching [it] burn.”
Because the house is located in the Blaeberry Valley, an area that is not protected under fire coverage, there was nothing that Golden Fire & Rescue could do to help. “The municipality of Golden pays for the fire department. We are 100 per cent funded by the tax payers of Golden,” said Fire Chief Ken McClure. “For me to go outside of my jurisdiction, which is the town boundary, I can’t do that.”
The only exception to this rule is if a human life is in danger. In that case the fire department is allowed to conduct a rescue operation, but will not attempt to salvage any property that might be at risk. Still, these regulations don’t make it any easier for McClure when he has to take a call like the one that came from Paul.
“My heart just breaks,” he said. “My guys are firefighters, they want to go out and help people all the time.”
A police officer called Paul back to tell her that an officer had been dispatched. Realizing she was on her own for now, Paul knew she had to act quickly to prevent the house from sustaining too much damage. Still in a panic, she went to the front door to check for a fire distinguisher, before she remembered that the extinguisher was actually in the kitchen.
“I was panicked because I’d never had to use one before,” she said.
Thankfully, Paul managed to put the fire out before the fire could spread and cause too much damage.
“I was so relieved,” she said. “When you know the people and you know the home, I just can’t imagine them losing it all.”
The cause of the fire was a malfunctioning older fridge.
While Paul humbly doesn’t consider herself to be a hero, the fact remains that without her intervention, the house would likely not be standing today. For their part, the owners of the home gave Paul a nice thank you card, as well as some bonus money that will come in handy for her upcoming trip to Ontario.
“I said [to the owners], ‘This is the one day I really wish I didn’t come to work, but I’m glad I did’,” she said.