WEST DALHOUSIE, NS – A family is homeless after fire swept through their two-storey house Jan. 10, but the community already has plans in the works to help them through the tragedy.
Nick and Alanna Bezanson and three children were not at home when the fire broke out late in the morning. Nick was notified where he works in Greenwood and arrived home to witness firefighters trying to save his home.
Bridgetown fire chief Randy Sheridan said at the scene that his crew got the call at 11:27 a.m. That automatically put Lawrencetown and Annapolis Royal trucks on the road as well. Fifteen minutes after the initial call, Middleton and Port Lorne were called to the scene. Nictaux was called to standby in Lawrencetown’s hall and Bear River at Annapolis Royal.
The house is located at 5122 West Dalhousie Road about three kilometres east of the Morse Road that comes up the South Mountain from near Bridgetown more than a dozen kilometres away.
The fire was spotted and called in by at least two neighbours.
Annapolis Royal fire chief Malcolm Frances was one of the first on the scene as Bridgetown was tapping into a dry hydrant at a nearby pond and getting ready to pump water to the scene.
“We had fire showing out of all the windows and doors when we got here,” Frances said. “We had three attack lines – one in the end door, the second team went in the front entry door and got the fire knocked down on the lower level, then we started progressing upstairs to the second floor.”
Firefighters wearing air packs also went through a back entry into the basement.
Lawrencetown’s aerial truck, hooked into by hose from the Bridgetown pumper truck at the pond 200 metres away, first sprayed water through dormers on the front of the house, a window on the east side, and finally through a hole in the peak of the roof.
Firefighters also tackled the fire from the ground, and eventually used pikes, axes, and even a chainsaw to remove vinyl siding and trim so they could rip off soffit and fascia boards to get at flames in the eves.
By 2 p.m. it was all but over. There was still smoke, but the flames were pretty much out.
“We’re going to be here for a while,” said Sheridan. “I still have to make a phone call to the fire marshal’s office and get them involved. We’re just about down to that stage now.”
Bezanson stood across the road watching as the firefighters worked. He’d grown up just down the road. When he returned to the area a few years ago he bought the house which he said was insured. It was heated by a heat pump.
Personal items will be the biggest loss, he said.
His family won’t have to go through it alone.
Jonathan Gillis and Debbie Stultz-Giffin were at the scene and after Bezanson arrived headed to the nearby West Dalhousie Community Hall to start making coffee and rounding up food – both for the Bezansons and for any firefighters who needed to get warm or have a hot beverage.
“We’re opening up the hall so that if they wish they can bring their children here after school for snacks, to get warm, possibly even supper,” said Stultz-Giffin. “And we’re looking little more long-range, but really short-term, to hold a fundraiser to assist them with some of the things that they’ve lost in the fire -- clothing, groceries, all that sort of thing. We know certainly they have a number of personal effects that they’ll never, ever be able to replace, but certainly we’ll be helping them with those items that are replaceable.”
Stultz-Giffin said whenever there’s an emergency in the community the community is quick to respond.
“We know the family,” she said. “In fact Nick grew up in the community and moved away for a few years and when he he came back and Alanna was with him and (she) has been a huge part of our community and one of our directors here at the community hall”
Stultz-Giffin said a bank account will be set up Jan. 11 and the fundraiser is being planned for the end of the month.