Port Alberni Fire Dept. Is at the scene of a structure fire in the 2600-block of Third Avenue. Third is closed southbound. Please use caution in the area (PAFD photo)                                Port Alberni Fire Dept. Is at the scene of a structure fire in the 2600-block of Third Avenue. Third is closed southbound. Please use caution in the area (PAFD photo)

Port Alberni Fire Dept. Is at the scene of a structure fire in the 2600-block of Third Avenue. Third is closed southbound. Please use caution in the area (PAFD photo) Port Alberni Fire Dept. Is at the scene of a structure fire in the 2600-block of Third Avenue. Third is closed southbound. Please use caution in the area (PAFD photo)

Single mom loses everything in Port Alberni house fire

Family hopes three cats got out through a back door

Monica Odenwald left her house on Third Avenue to pick up her daughter from a dance class at 8:30 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 8. Twenty minutes later, she returned to find her house on fire.

“I lived there for 10 years and raised my kids there as a single parent,” the Port Alberni woman said, standing on the boulevard that dissects Third Avenue near Bruce Street and watching firefighters attack the fire from multiple angles.

“I was picking up my daughter from dance…everything seemed fine.”

Port Alberni Fire Department Chief Mike Owens said the two-storey house was already fully involved when crews arrived shortly after receiving a call at 8:48 p.m.

“When we arrived on scene there was heavy fire and smoke already,” Owens said. “Our crews went to work right away trying to suppress the fire and contain it to the building of origin.”

There was some concern that the fire might spread to the house immediately south of Odenwald’s because it is so close. “We were successful in preventing the fire from spreading to that house,” he said.

“It’s a stubborn, entrenched fire right now.” Crews had the ladder up and were trying to get some different vantage points to suppress the flames that were still burning through the roof more than an hour after firefighters arrived on scene.

Neighbours and people who had seen the fire and called 911 lined the sidewalk across from the house. “I used to live in that house in Grade 5,” said Aaron Franks. He and his mother and two younger brothers spent a year living in the house. He pointed to a window where flames could still be seen: “That used to be my bedroom,” he said.

Selena Garcia lives on Fourth Avenue but saw the flames and thought the house immediately behind her was on fire. Garcia and other neighbours were concerned for Odenwald’s three cats, who hadn’t been seen since the fire broke out.

“I just hope my cats are OK,” Odenwald said. “If anyone around this neighbourhood around Bruce Street has seen my little black, fluffy cat, or my big grey fluffy cat, or my tabby cat, I hope they made it out the back.”

She asked if anyone spots her cats to call the Alberni-Clayoquot branch of the SPCA (250-723-5269).

Odenwald lost her job last October and had recently started a new one, working from home. “Hopefully I find a place to work from,” she said. She was waiting for someone from emergency services to come and talk to her about a place to stay for the night. One of her neighbours brought a blanket for her to put over her hoodie, so she would stay warm.

“I’m not sure of the cause of the fire…it’s an older house, built in 1955. It’s been a good house. A lot of memories there. But nothing left of it.”



susie.quinn@albernivalleynews.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

 

Single mom loses everything in Port Alberni house fire

Crews respond to a house fire on Third Avenue and Bruce Street on Wednesday night (Jan. 8). (SUSAN QUINN / ALBERNI VALLEY NEWS)

Crews respond to a house fire on Third Avenue and Bruce Street on Wednesday night (Jan. 8). (SUSAN QUINN / ALBERNI VALLEY NEWS)

Just Posted

Mount Arrowsmith. Three skiers were rescued from the south side of the mountain on Sunday, Jan. 17, 2021 with one woman taken to hospital in Comox. (Nancy Randall photo)
Injured skier among three rescued in the dark from Mount Arrowsmith

‘It was a very bad, very precarious spot to be able to locate them’

The Alberni-Clayoquot Regional District and City of Port Alberni have chosen the Voyent Alert! app for emergency notifications. (SUSAN QUINN/ Alberni Valley News)
Alberni, ACRD unveil new emergency alert system

Program is a response to criticism of botched communication after 2018 tsunami warning

Students from the junior leadership class at ADSS help homelessness and addictions advocate Mark Braunagel load backpacks and bags full of supplies into his truck on Friday, Jan. 15, 2021. Students collected supplies to be handed out to some of Port Alberni’s most vulnerable people. (SUSAN QUINN/ Alberni Valley News)
Alberni high school students fill backpacks to help city’s homeless

Junior leadership students embraced service project, said teacher Mike Roberts

(NEWS FILE PHOTO)
ACRD, City of Port Alberni receive $4 million for COVID-19

Municipalities have until end of 2021 to allocate funding

The site of the former Arrowview Hotel, on Second Avenue and Athol Street, as of Jan. 14, 2020. (ELENA RARDON / ALBERNI VALLEY NEWS)
Port Alberni pressures Arrowview Hotel owner for final cleanup

Demolition finished in June 2020 but site still full of construction material

A scene from “Canada and the Gulf War: In their own words,” a video by The Memory Project, a program of Historica Canada, is shown in this undated illustration. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO - Historica Canada
New video marks Canada’s contributions to first Gulf War on 30th anniversary

Veterans Affairs Canada says around 4,500 Canadian military personnel served during the war

Powell River-Sunshine Coast MLA Nicholas Simons was appointed to the NDP cabinet as minister of social development and poverty reduction after the October 2020 B.C. election. (Hansard TV)
B.C. job training fund increased for developmentally disabled

COVID-19 has affected 1,100 ‘precariously employed’ people

A Sooke woman is speaking up after she was almost tricked by a lottery scam, claiming she had won $950,000 with Set for Life Lottery. (File Photo)
‘I wanted it to be true so badly’: Sooke senior narrowly avoids lottery scam

88-year-old received letter stating she had won $950,000

B.C. driver’s licence and identity cards incorporate medical services, but the passport option for land crossings is being phased out. (B.C. government)
B.C. abandons border ID cards built into driver’s licence

$35 option costing ICBC millions as demand dwindles

Submitted photo of Town Park C Block apartment fire.
Apartment fire in Port Hardy forces residents to jump from building

‘Multiple people were transported to the hospital with injuries from falling’

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

sdf
2nd in-school violence incident in Mission, B.C, ends in arrest

RCMP notified of local Instagram page with videos (now deleted) showing student assaults, bullying

BC Emergency Health Services has deployed the Major Incident Response Team (MIRRT) as COVID-19 positive cases rise in the Williams Lake region. (Monica Lamb-Yorski photo - Williams Lake Tribune)
B.C.’s rapid response paramedics deployed to Williams Lake as COVID-19 cases climb

BC Emergency Health Services has sent a Major Incident Rapid Response Team to the lakecity

(Phil McLachlan - Black Press Media)
RCMP say ice climber seriously injured after reportedly falling 12 metres near Abraham Lake

Police say man’s injuries were serious but not life-threatening

Most Read