Three house cats are still missing after a Dec. 20 fire destroyed a home on Hazelnut Lane in Wilson Creek.
The three cats, last seen on the property before the fire, include Banshee, a three-year-old 10-kilogram (23 lb.) male tabby-Bengal mix, Joey, a five-kilogram (8 lb.) “very vocal” black and white six-year-old male and Sophia, a two-kilogram (5 lb.) friendly-but-skittish six-year-old female tabby.
Banshee is micro-chipped and Sophia and Joey have tattoo identification. All three are friendly and “very loving,” said Paul Fromager, who has owned the animals since they were kittens.
“They’ve gotten me through a lot. They’re family.”
Fromager has asked people who live or work in the area to keep an eye out for them in case they have travelled from the site of the fire.
“They will be looking for a place for warmth, and food,” he said, adding a possible sighting occurred at a carport in the Field Road area.
Fromager has returned to the site three times and friends have been searching the neighbourhood nightly.
The 29-year-old construction worker is rebuilding his life following the fire, which burned the home he had been renting for eight years.
Fromager was waking up with his two-and-a-half-year-old daughter, Paisley, the morning of Dec. 20 when she alerted him to a strange noise.
“It was a freak accident,” said Fromager.
He had left fully-charged Hilti lithium-ion batteries he uses for his work tools outside their charging devices on a table in the living room.
He, too, heard what he described as a “pressure releasing sound.” He opened the bedroom door to the living room, just “as one of those work batteries released the pressure and blew up on to me.”
He grabbed his daughter, wrapped her in his housecoat and fled to his truck. He strapped her in her car seat and drove her to the end of his driveway.
When he returned to the house, a couch was on fire, then the walls caught. He rushed upstairs to his roommate’s bedroom. “Fortunately he wasn’t in the house at the time,” said Fromager. By then the house was engulfed in “thick black smoke” and within 15 minutes it was in flames, he said. “It’s a pretty scary sight to see how quick something like that happens.”
Fromager tried leaving windows open to give his cats a way out of the home. “Yes, leaving the windows and the doors open helped the fire breathe, but it hopefully gave the cats a chance to get out,” he said.
He has since contacted the battery manufacturer, but they told him they haven’t heard of such explosions.
Paisley was uninjured, but has been shaken by the event. Fromager sustained second-degree thermal burns on a foot and hands, and second-degree chemical burns from the batteries on his thighs.
Despite losing almost all of his possessions, Fromager said his daughter was able to have “a pretty amazing Christmas,” thanks to a generous outpouring of donations from the community.
His sister launched a GoFundMe page and as of Dec. 30 has raised $8,690.
“That’s been absolutely amazing, completely overwhelming,” said Fromager. Strangers have donated gift cards, groceries and clothes. Children have wrapped up old toys and gifted them to Paisley. “It’s been pretty heart warming.”
Fromager said one day he would like to purchase a home if housing prices drop and in the meantime is staying with Paisley’s mother while they search for another place to rent.
Anyone who has seen the cats can contact Paul Fromager at 604-740-6827 or Tegan at 778-868-8742.