Outpouring of community support after Government Road blaze
Chief Staff Writer
The call that nobody wants came to Ian Brennan while he was at work.
His wife, Deana, called on Monday (June 7) just before 11:30 a.m. to tell him some bad news.
Brennan told The Chief, "She phoned me and said 'the garage was on fire' and I said, 'well don't tell me, call 911'. She told me she did but they put her on hold so she hung up and got out."
The owner of Sea to Sky Collision got into his vehicle and he knew it was serious when he saw the plume of black smoke rising up into the sky above his house on Government Road near Spiral Tailer Court long before he arrived at the scene.
According to Deputy Fire Chief Steve Virgint, the call came into Squamish Fire Rescue at about 11:30 a.m.
He confirmed that the fire started in the garage and ripped through the 35-year-old split level house, causing major damage.
The house had many cedar products, including siding, shakes and interior finish. Brennan described his house as "kindling".
"The thing just went, there was a nice breeze blowing and the fire just rolled down the house and came back again," he said. "The kids' rooms were really hit hard."
The burning cedar created a show that excited all the senses and attracted a large crowd.
"It sounded like Mardi Gras," Brennan said of the popping sound from the cedar as the hot blaze sent yellow and orange flames toward the clear blue sky darkened by the thick billowing smoke.
The damage estimate is close to $500,000. Brennan said his insurance company is taking care of his family.
Along with the insurance provider, the Brennans are getting help from family, friends and strangers alike.
"A lot of the kids' stuff is gone," said Brennan. "We got a lot of our clothes and were able to get them clean. We lost all the kids' clothes and toys. One of the kids came out with no shoes so we had to buy him shoes.
People who gave them clothing for the kids until the insurance company came forward with emergency funds took care of the family's immediate needs.
"The kids almost think it is Christmas again," Brennan said. "We're really thankful of the people around us who have helped out."
The family is also thank for the help they got from Victim Services and Squamish Fire Rescue.The Brennan family is staying at a home of vacationing relatives until a more permanent home can be arranged.
"What we're trying to figure out with the insurance company is to put a temporary trailer here," said Brennan. "We want to be here on the property with the animals. We need to be here to take care of them."
The house is not salvageable, according to Brennan, so he hopes to rebuild.
The house was a total loss; however, some valuables were rescued.
"We were able to save a few things." Brennan said. "We saved a lot of photos because Deanna put them in plastic tote bins. They were saved from the fire and they didn't get wet."
The Brennans plan to build a new house on their property.
Virgint said 19 Squamish Fire Rescue members fought the fire using three engines over the course of four hours.
The fire is under investigation.
"Everything was destroyed in the garage but we are still working to see if we can find any evidence of the cause," Virgint said.