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.”
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.