Roofers rescue 94-year-old from house fire
By Jeremy Deutsch
Eden Leong was doing some gardening in the backyard of her Eighth Avenue home Tuesday afternoon when she noticed smoke coming from a neighbour’s house three doors down. It was definitely alarming because Leong knew that the home of her elderly neighbour didn’t have a chimney.
Moments later, black smoke was billowing from the back of the home, while flames were shooting through the vents on the roof.
“The next thing you know black (smoke) was coming out and then I started yelling,” Leong told the Record.
She called out for Hira Gill, one of two roofers working on Leong’s house at the time. By then Gill and another roofer Amandeep Dhillon had also spotted the growing inferno.
Leong started to give the two men directions, while she ran into the house to call 911.
“I said ‘you better get down, run,’” she said, also telling the men there is an elderly woman in the burning house.
The two men quickly ran down the street just a few metres away. They saw the woman in the window and knocked on the door to get her out, but she didn’t budge.
So Gill and Dhillon broke down the door, but she still wouldn’t come out. They finally decided to grab her and pull her to safety.
By that time, a growing crowd of neighbours and onlookers were out on the street lending a hand.
The fire was eventually put out by firefighters before it could spread to nearby homes. No one was injured.
A day later, it appeared most of the damage was at the back of the home, however there is little information about the blaze. Calls to the New Westminster fire department were not returned prior to the Record's press deadline.
The New Westminster Police Department said it is aiding the fire department while the cause of the fire is being investigated.
Leong said neighbours kept asking the woman what happened, but she didn’t have an answer.
“We don’t know what happened,” she said, adding she’s not sure if her neighbour even knew her house was on fire.
Gursewak Gill is Hira’s brother and he helped translate the men’s story for the Record.
“The main thing was they wanted to save her,” he said. “They know it’s dangerous, but they think they can save her.”
He said the two men feel good about what they did and are proud they were able to help the elderly woman.
Meanwhile, Leong believes the outcome could have been much worse if she wasn’t home to call 911 and the roofers didn’t run to help.
“If we weren’t here, no one would know, it’s so quiet,” she said.