Firefighters blast water at a blaze that took place Wednesday night at a home on 15th Ave. SE.

Family grateful for fire response

Hillcrest: Significant damage to home, four people get out safely.

  • May. 19, 2015 4:00 p.m.

Fire investigators discovered where a fire started but aren’t sure what ignited the blaze at a home in the 1900 block of 15th Street SE on May 13.

“The point of origin was in the garage at the rear wall,” said assistant fire chief Jim Nickles on Friday, pointing out an individual had been smoking earlier in the evening but had used an ashtray. “Smoking cannot be eliminated as a potential cause but there are other sources such as electrical that cannot be ruled out.”

Nickles says there was a large fuel load at the point of origin, including a couch and items for recycling.

Much more important than the cause of the fire to Melissa Korhonen, mother of seven-year-old Ryann and nine-year-old Alexis, is that their father Jaret Smith got them safely out of the house.

It was the girls’ week to be with their father and Korhonen had turned off her phone for the night. She knew nothing about the fire that started around 10:30 p.m. until seven the next morning when she read a text from Smith’s son.

“I call it the happy, ugly cry,” she says of how terrified she was until she found out the girls were safe. “It was an amazing sense of relief but, at the same time, it’s when your worst nightmare was moments away from being a reality.”

Korhonen says both she and Smith are amazed at how fast the firefighters were on scene.

The Salmon Arm Fire Department responded  with some 30 firefighters from Hall 2 and 3 and were on scene until 1 a.m.

Nickles said Friday the insurance company has yet to make a decision as to whether to repair or rebuild the home that sustained heavy damage to the garage and one bedroom and suffered smoke damage throughout.

Still coping with a swirl of emotions in the aftermath of the fire, Korhonen says she is grateful to the fire department and Smith’s neighbour Shauna Decker, who took the girls to her place while firefighters fought the blaze. Decker’s daughters, Ryan and Sydney, gave the girls some of their beloved stuffies to help comfort them and, the next day, Decker bought Ryann and Alexis clothes and a new wubble bubble doll each.

“Not even 12 hours later, the things they were most sad about they had back,” says a tearful Korhonen. “It’s humbling how selfless people can be.”

She says there was a lot of hugging going on when she took the girls while Smith was busy addressing insurance issues.

She describes Smith as a “very involved, loving father” and says it’s important her daughters are with him at this time.

“They lost their dog and their grandma within six months,” she says. “So much  loss in their hearts already; to lose the time with their dad would be devastating.”

Korhonen is proud of how her girls laced up their shoes the next morning and took part in a cross-country race at the SASCU Little Mountain Sports Field.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Salmon Arm’s Natalie Wilkie earns bronze in world cup competition

Shuswap talent posts third-fastest qualification time for event

AIM Roads to focus on clearing compact snow and slush, enable roads to drain

Snow accumulation exceeds 10-year records in Malakwa, Enderby, Squilax

Warm temperatures close Shuswap outdoor skating rinks

Rinks had been open only a few days when weather changed

January brings record snowfall to Shuswap’s Larch Hills

Up to 800 downed trees removed so far from cross-country ski trails

Break in a “poke in the eye” to Shuswap ski club

Larch Hills Nordics looking at security improvements for chalet

VIDEO: Nickelback gears up for nostalgia tour

Canadian band joins Stone Temple Pilots for a summer tour that includes just one stop in Canada

Summerland taxes expected to rise by 4.0%

Increase to add an estimated $77.73 to typical tax bill

Province asks health-care staff to be ‘vigilant’ in screening for possible coronavirus cases

This comes after U.S. health officials confirmed a case of the virus in Washington State

Tourism visits to the Thompson/Okanagan up 18 per cent year-over-year

In 2019, almost 11.4 million people spent at least one night visiting the region

Boy, 13, arrested after alleged assault involving girl at B.C. middle school

Boy alleged to have used ‘inappropriate levels of force’ to injure the girl

B.C. player becomes only second Canadian to enter Hall of Fame of Baseball

Walker received 76.6 percent of the Baseball Writers of America Association vote

PHOTOS: Heavy snowfall breaks window, causing avalanche into B.C. newsroom office

It was a chaotic start to the week for the Kitimat Northern Sentinel

Kelowna International Airport to help ease people with autism into flying

The tour will take families through the entire pre-flight process

Most Read