Findlay Creek family thanks man who 'banged on our window' during fire
Published Monday, September 8, 2014 3:56PM EDT Last Updated Monday, September 8, 2014 6:41PM EDT
Members of an Ottawa family say they are lucky to be alive, thanks to stranger who was banging on their window and door yesterday. Their apartment building was engulfed in flames but the Mediratta family had no idea. The fire started just after 5 p.m. on Meadowlilly Road in Findlay Creek, in the south end of Ottawa. The family could smell smoke but they thought it was a barbecue. Their smoke detectors hadn't yet gone off. Fortunately, they had something better than that; a man who raised the alarm by pounding on their window. Today, Vikram Mediratta and his son Karan survey the damage to the building they called home damage that could have been deadly.
“The most important thing is my family is fine,” says Mediratta, “that's why I'm grateful to the gentleman who banged on our glass windows and said “get out".
Fire broke out Sunday afternoon on the top floor of the 12-unit, 3-storey building. Across the street, Dean Hazelwood and his neighbor Mike ran out when they heard someone yell "fire".
"I tell you in a matter of 3 minutes the entire roof was on fire,” recalls Hazelwood, “so there was very little time for anyone to make their way out.”
The two men pounded on windows and doors, yelling for the residents of the burning building to get out. Mediratta and his family of four were the only ones home and had no idea the place was on fire until Mike showed up.
"He was saying 'Get out of there',” says Mediratta, “and we were shocked saying "What the hell, what does he want from us" and he's saying “fire, fire.” All we could do was get out with the things we're wearing now.”
Two firefighters were injured, one with cuts to his face, the other with chest pains.
"It's pretty scary,” says Erika Lyall, who saw the fire from her residence down the road, “I don't think I've ever seen that many first responders before.”
The fire caused extensive damage, estimated at $4.2 million dollars. The Ontario Fire Marshall’s office has taken over the investigation.
"There is fire separation between the units and it did work,” says Marc Messier with Ottawa Fire Services, “but once it gets in the attic space, it's not uncommon for fire to make its way around or jump fire separations due to the wind or other circumstances.”
More than 20 residents have been displaced by the blaze. The cause isn't yet known but it is not considered suspicious. Findlay Creek is a relatively new community, but it's a close-knit one. Already residents are planning a fundraiser this Saturday to help those displaced by the fire and the two firefighters who were hurt trying to help.