Tragic ending to Coley’s Point fire
Couple perishes despite husband’s heroic effort to save his wife
The driver of the car could likely see smoke billowing from his house as he drove along Neck Road on the afternoon of Wednesday, Nov. 21.
The black, thick cloud was escaping from every crevice of his 30-year-old home on Coley’s Point.
Shocked by what he saw, the elderly man appears to have brought his beige Pontiac Sunfire to an abrupt halt in front of his white bungalow, and frantically raced inside, knowing his longtime wife was in peril.
In what many have described as a show of heroics, ultimate sacrifice and devotion, the man entered the inferno.
Unfortunately, there was no happy ending as husband and wife succumbed to the smoke invading their lungs.
They were mere feet from the front door, and the life-saving cool, fresh air they so desperately needed. The woman was found in her chair, while the husband had collapsed by her side.
“It was probably only an arm and a leg, and he was outside the door,” said Lt. Rick Edmunds of the Bay Roberts Volunteer Fire Department.
Up to late last week, the identities of the two victims had not been released to the public.
In a society where divorce is becoming more prevalent, their love was something unique, say those close to them. It was an example of a devotion that transcended life itself.
Both had just turned 80 years-ofage, and the woman had been living with Alzheimer’s disease for about two years. The husband, with the help of a homecare worker, constantly doted on his wife, it’s been said.
“It’s certainly a tragedy,” said Bay Roberts Mayor Philip Wood.
The fire is thought to have started between 1:30 p.m. and 2 p.m., and appears to have originated in the kitchen. It did not spread beyond the kitchen, but the entire home was filled with intense smoke.
A little after two the first call was made to the fire department. Moments later, Chief Clarence Russell, who lives nearby, was on the scene.
Moving quickly and entirely on instinct, Russell tried to enter the building, but was beaten back by
“It’s certainly not easy on the family and you feel for the firefighters. Especially
at this time of year.”
the smoke and heat.
Russell moved to the side door near the kitchen because he heard glass popping under the intense heat.
“I had nothing on but my jacket and it was the safest door,” he said. “I went in the length of myself and had to come back out again. There was too much smoke and heat.”
Efforts to revive
When firefighters arrived moments later, their first priority was to evacuate the couple, Edmunds explained.
Emergency responders spent the next 25-30 minutes trying to revive them, but were unsuccessful.
Russell commended his firefighters and police officers for the work they did in trying to resuscitate the victims.
“They really gave their all,” he said. “We exhausted everything we had.”
Wood said the tragedy was “hard on the community.”
“It’s certainly not easy on the family and you feel for the firefighters,” he said. “Especially at this time of year.”
Wood praised the work of his town’s first responders.
“They tried to do as much as they could,” he said. “I would’ve liked to see a different outcome.”
Investigators were on the scene late last week and the matter is still under investigation.
A fire inspector (left) and Bay Roberts Fire Chief Clarence Russell survey damage to a home on Neck Road in Coley’s Point late last week. An elderly couple perished in the incident.