Syd­ney Mines cou­ple killed in fire


SYD­NEY MINES — A quiet Syd­ney Mines neigh­bour­hood has been rocked by the death of two peo­ple in a dev­as­tat­ing fire early Mon­day morn­ing, de­spite the valiant ef­forts of a neigh­bour to save them.

Re­tired coal miner Joseph Mac­In­tyre and his wife Mau­reen, both 55, died in the fire.

Po­lice and fire of­fi­cials were called to a home lo­cated at 34 Church St. at around 12:10 a.m. Mon­day.

When po­lice ar­rived, they no­ticed a large amount of smoke com­ing from the home. A 28year-old man, who was suf­fer­ing from burns to his body, told po­lice his par­ents were still in­side the home.

Fire­fight­ers with the Syd­ney Mines Vol­un­teer Fire Depart­ment were able to en­ter the home and lo­cate the man’s par­ents. Both were rushed to the North­side Gen­eral Hospi­tal where they later died.

Their son, who was taken to hospi­tal suf­fer­ing from burns to his feet and smoke in­hala­tion, was treated and re­leased.

Ac­cord­ing to neigh­bours, a sec­ond son was work­ing back­shift and wasn’t home at the time of the fire.

Two fam­ily pets, a dog and cat, also died in the fire.

Travis Pye, who lives in a trailer next to the home, was awak­ened by a cou­ple of loud bangs.

“I got clothes on, ran out and kicked the door in. I put a wet towel around my head.”

In a hoarse voice, Pye strug­gled to de­scribe his ef­forts.

“I got half­way up the stairs but I couldn’t make it. I dropped go­ing up the stairs. I tried my best, there was noth­ing I could do, there was noth­ing but smoke, it burned my lungs.”

Pye said he tried to get up­stairs five times, but was turned back by thick, heavy smoke.

“I beat my­self up last night about it, but there wasn’t any­thing I could do. The young fel­low was pretty roughed up, he was con­fused.”

Deputy fire mar­shal Vince Penny said the fire was ac­ci­den­tal.

“ We be­lieve the fire to be of elec­tri­cal ori­gin, the re­sult of mis­use of ex­ten­sion cords, buzz (power) bars and ap­pli­ances plugged into it all lo­cated be­low a plas­tic ham­per full of cloth­ing. It was a very slow, pro­gress­ing fire, and be­cause of the build­ing construction on the in­side, it de­vel­oped into a more ma­jor fire. The first thing that de­vel­oped was heavy smoke.”

Penny said the cords were coiled up with power run­ning through, cre­at­ing re­sis­tance, then heat. The in­su­la­tion on the wire had bro­ken down, caus­ing sur­round­ing ma­te­ri­als to ig­nite.

He said the two ap­pli­ances — a fridge and deep freeze — both call for power when the com­pres­sor comes on. The longer the cord, the less the heat re­sis­tance.

“It ac­tu­ally breaks down and causes a fire. That’s what ap­pears to be the case in this par­tic­u­lar fire.”

Penny stressed that ex­ten­sion cords are only to be used for a short pe­riod of time, not for a con­tin­uos power source. He added that ap­pli­ances should be plugged di­rectly in to an elec­tri­cal cir­cuit.

Penny said the in­jured son was “very trau­ma­tized over the whole thing.”

“I don’t know if this is true or not, but ap­par­ently he heard his mother call­ing ‘Get out, get out.’”

Penny said he couldn’t find any ev­i­dence of smoke alarms in the house.

He said to his knowl­edge, the peo­ple were up­stairs in their bed­rooms at the time of the fire.

“ The dog was up­stairs dead and the cat down­stairs dead. When you have an­i­mals die that quickly, that will tell you the amount of smoke be­ing pro­duced. Un­for­tu­nately, there was a floor vent and the smoke was pour­ing into their bed­room.”

Neigh­bour Harold Schofield de­scribed the fam­ily as “very nice peo­ple, a hus­band, wife and two sons.”

“It’s not go­ing to be easy, peo­ple are pretty shook up,” he said. “Hard to be­lieve you can be here to­day and gone to­day. You never know.”

Schofield said it was brave of their neigh­bour to try to get into the home.

“He was very brave, that fel­low. He didn’t hes­i­tate, put a towel around his head and away he went. If he had gone back in too many more times, he wouldn’t have made it out.”

Julie Collins - Cape Bre­ton Post

Of­fi­cers with the SPCA re­move the re­mains of two fam­ily pets, a dog and cat, that died in Mon­day’s tragic house fire in Syd­ney Mines along with their own­ers, Joseph and Mau­reen Mac­In­tyre.

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