On Tuesday evening, Oct. 18, long-time Coast resident Carolyn Ireland (aka "The Pet Lady") opened the door to her Tillicum Bay cabin, to a blast of intense heat. Smoke and soot had permeated her home and all her belongings.
Fire Chief Bill Higgs believes a cat must have walked across the electric stove and accidently turned on a burner. The empty, large decorative cat food cans, put on the range to keep the cats off, burned through, causing heat so intense it melted the clock and broke the glass on the picture above the stove.
Higgs said, "The broken glass falling on the stovetop may have helped keep the fire at bay."
As a tenant, Ireland had no insurance, and has lost almost everything. The place has to be gutted and Ireland has to empty her contents and temporarily move out.
The cats are safe and being boarded at the SPCA. Ireland and her three small dogs are looking to relocate somewhere and put what little is salvageable into storage.
"It was a miracle the whole house did not go down in 10 minutes. This is one of the worst I've ever seen," Higgs said.
Ireland said, "I'm so grateful the animals are OK. They are the most important things in my life."
A bank account has been set up at the Bank of Montreal, Sechelt, account number 3143111, for anyone wishing to help Ireland and her beloved family of pets transition through this period, or call 604-885-3539.