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
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.”
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.