Rel­a­tive died try­ing to douse fam­ily’s house fire

Brother-in-law found with bucket of wa­ter next to him be­tween pool and blaze, had come over to wa­ter gar­den

The Hamilton Spectator - - LOCAL - JOEL OPHARDT

A 66-year-old Stoney Creek man was try­ing to put out a fire at his brother-in-law’s house when he died Tues­day night, fam­ily mem­bers say.

Har­jin­der Singh Bhullar’s close rel­a­tives, Jagtar Cha­hal and Har­jin­der Rand­hawa, say he was wa­ter­ing a gar­den when a fire started un­der the back deck.

The Fire Mar­shal told Rand­hawa a cig­a­rette, likely left by a labourer some hours be­fore Bhullar ar­rived, had smoul­dered in the dry heat un­der the deck un­til it ig­nited.

Bhullar’s body was found with­out vi­tal signs be­tween the pool and the fire, with a bucket of wa­ter next to him.

“He went back and forth, from the pool to the deck, from the pool to the deck, and then some­thing hap­pened there,” said Rand­hawa.

Cha­hal said au­thor­i­ties were un­sure whether he died from smoke in­hala­tion or pos­si­bly a heart attack.

“(Bhullar) had the same rou­tine ev­ery day,” said Rand­hawa, whose fa­ther lives in the house at 206 5th Rd. E. “At 6 (p.m.) he was home, had a shot of whiskey, din­ner and he was in bed by 8 (p.m.) He was up at 4 a.m. to do his prayers.”

But that day, for the first time, he broke his rou­tine, said Rand­hawa. At about 5:45 p.m. he headed over to wa­ter his brother-in-law’s gar­den, while he was away in Eng­land, de­spite his wife ask­ing him to wait un­til the next day. “He said: ‘My brother-in-law has helped a lot of peo­ple. He asked me once to help him, so I have to go,’” said Rand­hawa

Bhullar lived a few min­utes away from the house at 206 5th Rd. E. with his wife and two sons. He had moved to Canada in 2006, and still owned a farm in In­dia.

He had only re­cently re­turned from In­dia af­ter fix­ing ir­ri­ga­tion is­sues on his farm.

“He al­ways told me he loved the farm (in Stoney Creek) be­cause it re­minded him of home,” said Rand­hawa, adding that Bhullar was a hard-work­ing fam­ily man.

Cha­hal re­calls his love of gar­den­ing, walk­ing, play­ing with his grand­chil­dren, tak­ing them to school, driv­ing them to soc­cer games, and chat­ting with his sons.

“He liked talk­ing to peo­ple,” said Cha­hal. “When we were sit­ting it’s not like he was just sit­ting, he made the party glow.”

Bhullar at­tended the Gur­d­wara Baba Budha Ji Sikh Tem­ple in Stoney Creek. His large Sikh fam­ily of more than 150 mourns his loss.

“They are dev­as­tated. They can­not sleep,” Cha­hal said of Bhullar’s im­me­di­ate fam­ily. “Ev­ery fam­ily mem­ber is dev­as­tated. Our com­mu­nity is dev­as­tated.”

Rand­hawa said Bhullar loved com­ing to fam­ily events and even en­joy­ing the ball hockey tour­na­ment or­ga­nized and held at the 25-acre com­mu­nal farm at 206 5th Rd. E.

“We will have to make a nice big tro­phy with his name on it for the win­ning team,” said Rand­hawa.

Fire­fight­ers were called to the de­tached home just be­fore 9:30 p.m., east of Mud Street East and Tap­ley­town Road, af­ter the fire started at the rear of the house.

Bhullar was found by fire­fight­ers. He was trans­ported to hos­pi­tal by am­bu­lance, and was later pro­nounced dead.

When Rand­hawa was in­formed of the fire, he was re­lieved to know his mother had been out, think­ing no one was hurt.

“But then I find out some­one is in the hos­pi­tal, then I find out they’ve died, then I find out it’s my un­cle.

“We didn’t even know he was there.”

SHANE MUR­PHY, SPE­CIAL TO THE HAMIL­TON SPEC­TA­TOR

Fire­fight­ers were called to the home at 9:30 p.m., east of Mud Street East and Tap­ley­town Road.

Har­jin­der Singh Bhullar of­fered help­ing hand.

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