Fireworks may be to blame for fire at Surrey family home
Published Monday, July 17, 2017 5:21PM PDT
Last Updated Monday, July 17, 2017 7:02PM PDT
Two families were sleeping over the weekend when the roof of a Surrey home caught fire, sending towering flames into the air.
Gavin Atwal woke up around midnight Sunday to the screams of his siblings, who were shouting for everyone to get out fast.
His mother was so frantic she fell onto the concrete, hurting her face.
"I fell down. I don't know what happened… I lost everything," Manjit Atwal said.
Manjit and Gavin were among 10 people, including children, who were inside the home on 58A Avenue when the roof went up in flames. In addition to the Atwal family, there was a family of tenants living upstairs.
The home was completely engulfed by the time firefighters arrived, but fortunately the fire did not spread to nearby homes.
Everyone was able to get out safely, but the home was damaged to the point where they can no longer live in it. Gavin said the family's tenants, who have two children under the age of 5, did not have insurance. An online fundraiser has been set up to help the fire's victims.
The heat from the fire was so high that it bent a metal door in half. Damaged aluminum soffit and other debris was scattered across the backyard.
Fire officials are still investigating the cause of the blaze, and are considering several possibilities, but a leading theory is that it may have been sparked by fireworks.
Several neighbours reported hearing someone set them off before the home caught fire.
"If it happens that there was fireworks being let off that would coincide with the roof being on fire," Surrey Fire Battalion Chief Richard Ellis said.
"We found a couple other roofs that had embers on them that we were quickly putting out as well."
Authorities are using the blaze as an opportunity to warn others not to set off fireworks. After weeks without any precipitation, a single ember can be devastating.
Gavin called the possible cause "shocking," saying whoever may have been lighting fireworks in their neighbourhood would have been trying to have a good time, not trying to do harm.
"Not in a million years did somebody think, 'I'm going to light a firework and I'm going to catch somebody's house on fire and potentially cause a tragedy,'" he said.
"The cedar shingles… it only takes a matter of a flick to catch a roof on fire, and literally in two, three minutes, the entire roof was gone."
He said the roof of the home was aging, and that he'd been saving up to repair it. Crews were scheduled to begin work on a new roof at the home next week.
With a report from CTV Vancouver's Scott Roberts