Man who lost his parents in Lytton, B.C., fire wants to go home
Man who lost his parents in Lytton, B.C., fire wants to go home
Warning: Details in this story may be disturbing to some readers
Down a driveway now overgrown, on a fire-ravaged property, sits a memorial to Janette and Michael Chapman.
It is here that their son, Jeff Chapman, brings flowers each time he returns.
“I was very close to my parents,” Chapman said. “We did everything together as a family.”
His world was turned upside down June 30, 2021.
“There was just this feeling that day, afternoon, that I never had before,” he said.
Chapman, who had been living on his parent’s property at the time, spotted smoke down the hill.
“It happened so fast. (From) the time I seen smoke and the time the fire came up, I don’t even think it was 10 minutes before the house was on fire,” he recalled.
At first, the Chapmans didn’t realize the danger they faced, thinking it was a grass fire that they could extinguish.
In video Chapman recorded, you can hear the trio as they frantically search for a fire extinguisher, then come to the shocking realization that the fire had spread to their shed.
“My dad said, ‘Just grab what you can and get out of here.’ The shed just lit up and then the house started to ignite,” he said.
His parents took refuge in a trench on the property. There was no room for Chapman so he ran to the nearby tracks.
From there, he said he watched in horror as his parent’s property, and most of Lytton, burned to the ground.
Thinking he might die, he recorded a video on his phone, saying where his parents were and fearing the worst after a pole fell onto the trench.
“I lost my mom and dad,” he said, sobbing during the video.
He returned to the property about an hour later when the flames had died down.
That’s when he confirmed his worst fears. His parents had not survived.
Now a year later, Chapman said he has good days and bad days.
“I wake up in the middle of the night and I see my mother’s face,” he said.
Fire now triggers fear.
“The sound of fire just totally brings me right back to that day,” he said.
He also battles regret.
“I blame myself for it, you know. If I would have just got in the car and told them to get out of here,” he said, explaining that at the time, he thought it was the safest place to put them.
“Everyday he says he just wants to go home,” said his girlfriend, Brenda Belluz. “He cries about his mom and dad, and that there’s no closure.”
Chapman is still looking for answers.
“I don’t know any more today than I did the day after the fire,” he said.
The fire also took away Chapman’s livelihood. All of his tools for work were lost and he can’t afford to replace them. He’s no longer receiving financial support from the Red Cross.
“How do you grieve and wonder how you are going to pay the high rent?” asked Belluz, who has set up an online fundraiser for Chapman.
His parents’ home was not insured.
Chapman said his parents, both in their 60s, were good people.
“My dad was my mentor…He was everything to me,” Chapman said.
He said his mom was incredibly caring.
Despite what happened, Chapman wants to move back to the property.
And he believes it’s what his parents would want, too.
“When I’m here, I’m here with my parents,” he said.
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