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Neighbours help fight Vancouver Island fire that left mom and son in urgent need

Fundraising campaign underway for displaced victims of Sunday fire
Greg Strange, left, and Peter Blacker stand in the front of the Ardwell Avenue house damaged during Sunday’s fire. The two men helped to fight the flames before and after the arrival of firefighters. (Wolf Depner/News Staff)

As Saanich Peninsula residents rally to support a mother and her son following a Sidney fire, the public is learning more about two individuals who helped to prevent an even worse scenario.

A GoFundMe page is fundraising for the mother and son, who managed to escape a basement suite fire that caused extensive damage to a home on Ardwell Avenue near McDonald Park Road on Sunday afternoon (Feb. 6).

“They all got out safely, but have just the clothes on their backs,” said Brigitte Daley, who is organizing the fundraising, in an online note. “Unfortunately they didn’t have any insurance, so if you can donate what you can to help Jackie and her son all of us would greatly appreciate it.”

The campaign looks to raise $10,000, having raised $1,800 as of Tuesday evening.

Also appreciated is the work of neighbour Peter Blacker and Greg Strange, who was working nearby.

Sidney Volunteer Fire Chief Brett Mikkelsen said their early intervention helped to lessen the damage.

Blacker used his garden hose for about 15 minutes to douse the flames before and after the arrival of fire crews, while Strange rushed over from his nearby place of work with a fire extinguisher. At one point, both were working side-by-side in helping to contain the fire.

RELATED: Two sent to hospital after basement fire in Sidney

“I just kept on going until I started seeing steam coming out of the inside, I’m going, ‘OK, the (firefighters are inside)’ and I pulled back,” Blacker said.

Strange also struck a matter-of-fact tone about his involvement.

“I really didn’t do too much,” he said. “Everybody else was helping out, doing their thing. I just went over with a fire extinguisher. It was heads-down, I was trying to help out – that was it.”

When told of Mikkelsen’s comments, Strange said they were news to him.

“Greg is always around, he is always helping out, because this is an accident-prone place,” added Blacker.

Sidney Volunteer Fire Department, with support from the North Saanich and Central Saanich departments, responded to the fire. Mikkelsen said Monday the investigation is ongoing, with evidence pointing toward an electrical cause. Damage to the basement suite is significant, with rough estimates pegging it at around $200,000.

Individuals can donate to the fundraiser at

Wolf Depner

About the Author: Wolf Depner

I joined the national team with Black Press Media in 2023 from the Peninsula News Review, where I had reported on Vancouver Island's Saanich Peninsula since 2019.
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