Cabin users escape blaze
Four decades of memories and endless card games go up in smoke
John Will Mutrey was napping on the couch while the four ladies, as usual, were playing cards at the kitchen table.
But the relaxation and enjoyment came to a quick end Saturday morning, July 3 when the cabin they were in on Line Road, Carbonear suddenly caught fire and eventually burned flat to the ground.
Mutrey could joke about the incident by Monday, quipping that the ladies - his wife Rose, daughters Margaret Crawford and Agnes Penney, and Rose’s sister, Agnes Reynolds - were more concerned about losing their cards and a pot of money on the table. But the 77-year-old admitted it could have been much worse.
“If it had been during the night and we had all been asleep, we wouldn’t be talking. We’d all be dead,” Mutrey said.
The drama began just after 11 a.m. Mutrey does not play cards, so he was resting quietly, lulled by the heat from the fire in the woodstove. The four ladies were laughing and arguing at the table.
“ Someone yelled ‘ fire!’ and we all got out as fast as we could,” Mutrey recounted.
In minutes, he said, the cabin was filled with smoke and flames were shooting out through the eaves. He tried to douse the fire with a bucket of water, but his efforts were futile.
“ There was no way to save it,” he said, noting that the cabin had a “double roof,” and the fire was deep inside.
Some 20 volunteers with the Carbonear volunteer fire department responded with two pumper trucks and a rescue unit. It took more than two hours to snuff out the blaze, said Capt. Jeff Squibb. Two nearby travel trailers were also spared.
Squibb said the area is heavily forested, and the fire could easily have been much worse. He s a id an overnight downpour of rain had soaked the area, and the winds were very light. And without a nearby supply of water, the department had to truck water to the scene.
Squibb said there are about 50 cabins in the immediate area.
It’s believed the fire started in the attic, and was likely caused by the woodstove, said Squibb.
He cautioned cabin owners to routinely inspect their chimney and stove, and keep a special eye out for nests that birds and other animals may build in the chimney.
Meanwhile, Mutrey and the others could only watch as 40 years of memories and good times went up in flames. All they managed to save was a generator and a can of gas, and three purses.
Rose Reynolds owned the cabin, and it was a favourite destination each weekend between April and September.
The playing cards were on the table nearly every waking hour, Mutrey commented.
“ They played from Friday evening to Sunday night. I used to drive them in, get the fire going and then I’d bring in water and get some wood for them. Then I’d come home. It’s quieter home.
“Sometimes there were up to eight of ‘em playing cards. They’d give up two or three in the morning. Then they’d eat breakfast and start playing again. That was not for me.”
They haven’t decided if they will rebuild.