Man in crit­i­cal con­di­tion af­ter fire

Cape Breton Post - - FRONT PAGE - BY SHARON MONT­GOMERY-DUPE

DO­MIN­ION — A 73-year old Do­min­ion man was in Glace Bay Hospi­tal in crit­i­cal con­di­tion af­ter po­lice res­cued him from a house fire early Tues­day morn­ing.

“The smoke alarm did its job, it woke up a per­son who was sleep­ing,” said Vince Pen­ney, deputy fire mar­shal.

“ Why he is alive is be­cause of the smoke alarm, his neigh­bour and po­lice.

“He is now in the hospi­tal suf­fer­ing from se­vere smoke in­hala­tion.”

Const. Jim Tay­lor of the Cape Bre­ton Re­gional Po­lice Ser­vice foren­sic iden­ti­fi­ca­tion unit said it was an ac­ci­den­tal fire.

“Elec­tri­cal can’t be ruled out as the cause — elec­tri­cal is a pos­si­bil­ity.”

The fire broke out at 1:45 a.m. at the home of David Beaton at 36 Villa Nova Rd.

Pen­ney said al­though they haven’t been able to talk to Beaton yet, they be­lieve from the ev­i­dence at the scene he was in bed on the sec­ond floor when the fire broke out on the main floor in a small sit­ting room at the back of the house.

“It ap­pears the smoke alarm woke him up and he came down the stairs try­ing to get out.”

How­ever, when Beaton got to the door at the bot­tom of the stairs, which opens into the sit­ting room, fire blocked his es­cape, Pen­ney said.

“The heat would be like putting your hand in­side an oven,” he said.

“He prob­a­bly took a breath or two and that was it.

“He only made it to the back door, where he was res­cued.”

Pen­ney, who was sift­ing through de­bris with Tay­lor on Tues­day af­ter­noon, said the fire started near a chair in the sit­ting room.

Pen­ney showed re­porters at the scene the Poly­eth­yl­ene foam — com­monly found in chair cush­ions — ex­plain­ing how a fire liqui­fies, caus­ing heavy, black, toxic smoke.

He said the ap­pear­ance of the room in­di­cates it was filled with smoke.

“Smoke is a si­lent killer; he is lucky to be alive,” Pen­ney said.

“ We will be sift­ing through de­bris and doc­u­ment­ing things.”

It was a trau­matic run of events for Mar­garet Jean Gil­lis, a LPN at Taigh Na Mara in Glace Bay, who lives next door.

Gil­lis said it was lucky she hap­pened to be up late the night of the fire.

“I was on my way to bed when I looked over at David’s house and thought it was funny his kitchen lights were on so late. Then I no­ticed smoke in his kitchen.” Gil­lis called 911. Mem­bers of the Cape Bre­ton Re­gional Po­lice Ser­vice forced the locked door open and saw beaton’s foot through the heavy smoke. The of­fi­cers grabbed the foot and pulled him onto the back step.

The of­fi­cer be­gan CPR on Beaton, as­sisted by Gil­lis, un­til EHS ar­rived.

She said Beaton, his wife and two chil­dren moved be­side them about 30 years ago and were great neigh­bours.

Beaton was liv­ing alone af­ter his wife was re­cently moved to a nurs­ing home.

She brushed off the no­tion of be­ing a hero.

“ You do what you have to do. It must have been the nurs­ing in me.”

Neil MacNeil, fire chief of the Do­min­ion Vol­un­teer Fire Depart­ment, said about 15 fire­fight­ers re­sponded to the call.

MacNeil said the neigh­bor saved Beaton’s life.

“If not for the neigh­bour call­ing po­lice, it would have taken us longer to get there and he would have been dead.”

He said the fire­fight­ers did a great job con­tain­ing the fire to the one room.

There was smoke dam­age to the rest of the house.

The fire depart­ment re­mained on the scene for about an hour.

David MacDon­ald of Glace Bay, a nephew of Beaton, said his un­cle is in the in­ten­sive care unit at Glace Bay Hospi­tal.

“He has a lot of smoke dam­age to his lungs. They are say­ing it is 50/50 right now. A lot of fam­ily are at the hospi­tal. ”

MacDon­ald took at look at the fire dam­age at the scene.

“I feel bad, it is aw­ful. There is a lot of smoke dam­age.”

Lynn Gil­bert, as­sis­tant to the di­rec­tor of pub­lic af­fairs at the Cape Bre­ton District Health Au­thor­ity, said the man re­mains in crit­i­cal con­di­tion.

Sharon Mont­gomery-Dupe — Cape Bre­ton Post

Const. Jim Tay­lor of the Cape Bre­ton Re­gional Po­lice Ser­vice foren­sic iden­ti­fi­ca­tion unit, left, Vince Pen­ney, deputy fire mar­shal, sift through the de­bris of a house fire that sent one man to hospi­tal in crit­i­cal con­di­tion early Tues­day morn­ing.

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