Chris Pozzolo is nothing short of a hero, say neighbours.
They said Pozzolo repeatedly went into a blazing trailer to try to save his fiancee and her three children when a fire broke out and spread quickly early Friday morning.
“He went back into the house four times,” said neighbour Lance Kenney. “He put his life on the line to save that family.”
Pozzolo managed to get his fiancee, Sarah Arlidge, and her three- and five-year-old sons to safety.
Sadly, seven-year-old daughter Charlotte could not be saved.
Pozzolo suffered burns to his arm and is being treated in the same Calgary hospital where Sarah and her five-year-old son Benjamin are being treated for severe burns. Three-year-old Sammy was treated and released and is being cared for by a family friend.
Mario Roy, who was Sarah’s late father’s best friend, and who promised to take care of her, said Pozzolo did all he could.
“When he went to get the little girl, the trailer blew up. That’s why we couldn’t get her.
“There were like five explosions. Propane tanks were blowing off.”
Roy said he went to the rear of the home to try to get the little girl, whose room was at the back.
“The smoke came barrelling out of there so fast when I hit the window. Boom, there was a concussion.
“We were at the back of the trailer trying to get her out, because the front was engulfed. The flames were 30 feet (high).”
Roy said he took one of the boys from the porch and brought him to his trailer next door. In the few seconds it took to do that, the fire had spread to his trailer.
“It was so fast. It was unreal.”
Jodi Bisio, Arlidge’s friend, said Pozzolo did “amazingly” and has not left Arlidge’s and Benjamin’s side at the hospital.
The 30-year-old friend, who the children refer to as auntie, describes Charlotte as a beautiful soul, who loved her brothers very much, and whose smile was contagious. She loved to play the piano at Bisio’s place and liked to sing and draw.
“We’re all so shaken up about this.”
Arlidge has been in induced coma, and doesn’t know of her daughter Charlotte’s death, the friend said.
Arlidge is making progress, and is being taken in for skin grafts.
“It’s slow (progress) – baby steps,” Bisio explained.
As of Monday afternoon, there have been no updates on Benjamin’s health, but he remains stable, Bisio said.
Bisio said they will need a fresh start, with a new house, clothes, car, furniture and toys. Monday, the fundraiser had surpassed its $10,000 goal.
She noted Roy is in need of help as well, as the fire spread to his mobile home also.
The friend wants to help Arlidge, and has been reaching out to businesses and churches, to see if there’s any interest in building a home for the family, who has lost everything in the fire.
Her goal is to have a place ready for the family when Arlidge is discharged from the hospital, and continues her recovery at home.
“My goal is to make things easier for them – whether it be renting or owning.”
In the meantime, the friend is accepting donations of clothes, furniture and toys – especially for Sammy – who needs to be kept busy, Bisio explained, adding the young boy loves trains, and any train donations are welcome.
“I want to do everything for Sarah, that I know she would do for me, if the situation was reversed,” said the Red Deer woman.
The family is in need of donations and prayers, the 30-year-old said. Donations will be accepted starting Friday. Email Bisio at firstname.lastname@example.org to make a donation.
A second fundraiser, Arlidge-Pozzolo Family Emergency, on GoFundMe, organized by Stacey Wanzuk and Sherry Adams raised more than $2,000 with a goal of $10,000 as of Monday afternoon.