A family of five is trying to pick up the pieces this holiday season after fire destroyed their home early Wednesday morning.
The couple and three daughters escaped injury as the blaze heavily damaged their rental townhouse at 19 Shepherd Road, which is located in Cowie Hill.
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“You always see it on the news — a family losing their house this time of year,” the father, Joe Keizer, told Metro at the scene. “This time it happened to us,”
Halifax Regional Fire and Emergency Service spokesman Capt. Dave Meldrum said they were called to the blaze at 4:47 a.m. and upon arriving “encountered heavy fire on both the ground and upper level of the end unit.”
Fire was also extending out the roof, but Meldrum said within 40 minutes firefighters were able to get the blaze mostly out. They also stopped the fire from seriously damaging the vacant house that adjoined it. The cause is being investigated.
“They did a great job getting in there quickly,” Meldrum said of the firefighters. “The good news is the family had already left the structure. They were outside when we arrived.”
Keizer said his oldest daughter, 13-year-old Myranda, first noticed the flames and yelled fire from her room on the first floor. She then woke everyone up.
“I saw the fire and they ran out,” Keizer said. “I tried to put a blanket over it because it wasn’t huge at the time. The blanket didn’t work so I ran out.”
The family then tried called for its three-year-old dog Coco, but she wouldn’t come.
“I tried to go back in and at that time, everything was just in flames in a matter of seconds,” he recalled. “It was full of smoke. I took one breath and I couldn’t breathe anymore. So I ran out the door and the flames chased me out the door, right over my head.”
Keizer believes the family dog died in the blaze. He also said they “lost absolutely everything” inside, including the Christmas gifts they bought for their daughters - Myranda, nine-year-old Alexis and four-year-old Lacey.
The Canadian Red Cross was on scene immediately to prove the family with emergency accommodations and food, replacement clothing, blankets and personal care items.
“This is the worst time,” said Keizer, who doesn’t have rental insurance. “I wish I could’ve been a late shopper (this year), like I usually am.
“But now we move forward, I guess,” he added. “That’s all we can do.”
With files from Ryan Taplin.