A fire that destroyed an Almond Gardens home and sent two people to hospital last Monday, March 29, appears to have been deemed accidental in nature, according to Grand Forks Fire/Rescue.
Dep. fire chief Stephane Dionne said a person told him at the scene that they had dropped a propane torch while soldering something in a shed behind the main residence at 2240 B Almond Gardens Road. The person was then taken to Boundary Hospital, apparently suffering from minor burns.
Dionne said the fire started in a small shed behind the home causing a propane tank to explode at around 10 p.m. The blaze then spread to the main residence and a private garage on the property, causing over $500,000 in estimated damages.
Laurie Parsons, a cancer patient, was left homeless after the fire destroyed her live-in suite. She said she is staying at a city motel paid for by the Canadian Red Cross as of Wednesday, March 31.
Parsons explained she ran out of her home in her pyjamas after she was woken up by a loud explosion. She was able to help an elderly woman escape from an RV parked behind the garage. Parsons said she lost everything she owned, thanking responding firefighters who managed to save two framed pictures of her son and departed father.
“The rest was just stuff,” she said, adding that she was grateful that she and the woman got out alive.
Barry “Bear” Brandow, who privately operated a car garage behind Parson’s home, said he lost up to $250,000 in tools and equipment, plus his Ford F-350, all of which burned up at the scene. He was at his North Fork home when the fire broke out, he said.
Dionne said the exact cause of the fire remains “undetermined,” explaining that the flames destroyed too much evidence at the scene.
“I want people to know that our volunteer members showed up, fought that fire for 13 hours and then went to their regular jobs in the morning,” he told The Gazette.
Grand Forks RCMP is not recommending criminal charges stemming from the fire, according to Sgt. Darryl Peppler.
Parsons is asking for the public’s help finding her black short-haired cat, “Little Bear,” who has been spotted in the Almond Gardens area. Anyone with information about Little Bear’s whereabouts is asked to call or text The Gazette at 250-442-7086 or to phone the Boundary Helping Hands Feline Rescue Society at 250-801-0519.
Grand Forks/Fire Rescue did a remarkable job trying to save her home, she said. Parsons thanked Fire Chief George Seigler for driving her to Boundary Hospital, where she was given an emergency supply of medications early Tuesday morning, March 30.
Over $5,000 in donations have poured in to a GoFundMe campaign for Parsons’ recovery since last week, according to the campaign website.