Dec 29 fire by bcfiretrucks“There’s a fire. A woman’s screaming for help,” my husband said and ran out the door.

I followed Fred across the lawn to the townhouse building next to ours. Smoke billowed out the front door of an upstairs unit. Someone was calling 911 while others stood frozen.

A man and woman stayed near the burning building; they looked terrified. “Is anyone still in there?” Fred asked them. When they didn’t answer, he put both hands on the man’s shoulders and used his policeman’s voice to ask the question again.

“My son,” he answered.

“The fire’s too big. We can’t get in,” a neighbour said.

Fred went around the building to where the bedroom windows were and heard screaming from inside. “Get the big ladder,” Fred told Michael, the resident caretaker.

“It’s locked and I don’t have the key.”

Fred took me aside. “Pray,” he said, “and go guide the fire truck in.”

A few minutes later the fire truck arrived. “A boy’s still in there,” I hollered. “Bring a ladder.”

Before the firefighters got to the house, the boy was brought to them. His face was blackened and wet with tears. “He’s breathing,” someone said.

I found Fred not far away.  “What happened?” I asked.

“I got him out,” Fred replied. I hugged and hugged him.

The firefighters gathered their equipment. I could see flames now and more smoke poured out of the building.

“Let’s go home,” Fred said. “You don’t want to breathe in this stuff.”

Fire 3 bc firetruck

A while later a policeman knocked on our door. He wanted to investigate what happened. After getting the details, he offered Fred medical assistance. “I’m fine,” Fred said.

“Your neighbours are calling you a hero,” the R.C.M.P. officer said.

Fred shrugged it off. “I used to be a member. I’ve been in situations like this before.”

Later that evening, two firemen also came to the door and so did the neighbour who tried three times to get through the fire to the boy. They all thanked Fred for what he did.

“I heard Demetri cry out from his room and I had to do something,” Fred told me when we were alone. Tears clouded his eyes. “No one knew what to do, so I took charge. I told Michael to get bolt cutters. We got the ladder and I went up it not knowing what I would find. I took the screen off the window and saw an orange glow and the room filled with smoke. Demetri was on his bed whimpering. He came to me as soon as I called him. He took my arm and I carried him down.”

The emergency vehicles left sometime after midnight. “My hero,” I said to the man who is rarely in the limelight.

The next morning I asked Fred how he slept.

“Not great. I kept having flashbacks of fires I attended when I was working for the R.C.M.P.,” he said. “It opened up boxes I haven’t looked in for a long time.”

“What did you remember?”

He told me about the times people died. He described horrific sights and smells.  I heard the anguish that had been locked away for decades.

And so did God. God knew how badly Fred had wanted to help those people. Finally he was given the opportunity to save someone’s child.

 In Jesus 3

For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. – Ephesians 2:10 (NIV)




Photos of “Child Rescued from Townhouse Fire in Burnaby (Dec 29, 2014)” by bcfiretrucks. Used with permission.
The statue was carved for Father Thomas Green, SJ (1932-2009) by Joe Crawford, December 1988.  Steve Imbach writes, “We visited Father Tom in the Philippines and when our visit with him was over he told us to take it home; it was ours.  It now sits in the room I offer direction in.”
© Esther Hizsa, An Everyday Pilgrim, 2015.
Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without permission from Esther Hizsa is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used provided there is a link to the original content and credit is given as follows: © Esther Hizsa, An Everyday Pilgrim 2013, 2014, 2015.

About Esther Hizsa

Esther is a spiritual director and writer. She lives in Burnaby with her husband, Fred, and they have two grown children and two grandchildren.
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11 Responses to Fire!

  1. Donna says:

    Glory to God!!!!!!!!!!!!! Thank you Lord that Fred and the boy were both safe!!!

    Date: Sat, 3 Jan 2015 00:01:24 +0000


  2. Jayne says:

    Fred! Many blessings on you, you dear man, and I pray that Jesus will draw near to you as you sort through the aftermath.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Sylvia Tan says:

    Sounds like quite a few doors were opened… a door to help someone, a door to a smoke-filled room, a door for a second chances for a rescuee and rescuer, a door into the past, a door to a deepening a relationship, a door for others to really see Fred for who he is and a door to see many things afresh from God’s eyes. Thanks for the privilege of sharing what matters to you with all of us.


  4. CMK says:

    Wow! Thank you for processing this experience and sharing the story with me. So amazing. Thanks be to God for Fred’s determination, following his inner calling to save Demetri. I will keep Fred in my prayers as he recovers from the experience and the memories it unearthed.


  5. Dave Small says:

    Thanks for sharing this powerful story of grace and courage. We hope to avoid tragedies – but when they do happen, we are fortunate to have people like Fred around to limit the damage. What a difference he made in so many lives.


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