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Woman and her son escape fire that destroyed their home west of Salmon Arm

Fire crews from three Salmon Arm fire halls responded to the blaze around 3 a.m. Jan. 8
A fire that destroyed the home of Neskonlith member Bonnie Thomas on Jan. 8, 2022 has been deemed suspicious. (Contributed)

A fire destroyed a house on Switzmalph land west of Salmon Arm in the early morning hours of Saturday, Jan. 8.

Gerry Thomas, who witnessed the blaze, said the house that burned belonged to his sister, Bonnie Thomas.

Around 3 a.m. Gerry received a phone call, got up and went outside to see his sister’s house on fire. He called her, and she made it out of the house unscathed alongside her son, Darcy Andrew. They then dialed 911.

Salmon Arm Fire Chief Brad Shirley said firefighters received the call just after 3 a.m. and crews from three different halls responded. When they arrived, they found the home on fire and “got it down quickly.”

Fire crews were on scene for about three-and-a-half to four hours and were able to recover some personal belongings from inside the Second Nations Road residence.

Shirley added the fire was suspicious and the investigation has been turned over to the RCMP.

Gerry said he saw a man running away from the house after it caught fire, who he said was later found by police. In an interview around 9 a.m. Saturday, Gerry said the man was in an ambulance in front of his house.

Unfortunately, Gerry said his sister’s house is destroyed and she’ll need a new one. He explained how all houses on the reserve are insured, but not their contents. He said the fire started in Bonnie’s carport, so her car is totalled as well.

Bonnie has a place to stay, as she’s being put up in a motel for three days — the fire department called Emergency Support Services for her. After that, Gerry said he’ll try and get her moved into another house on the reserve for the time being.

“(Bonnie) helps out a lot and does a lot of work with the community. The community will be behind her, I know that,” he said.

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