Photo by THE CANADIAN PRESS A volunteer firefighter looks on as RCMP officers place a tarp at the scene of a house destroyed in a weekend fire in Pubnico Head, N.S., Monday. Police in Nova Scotia say a fire that claimed the lives of four young children is not being considered suspicious.

Victim of house fire in rural Nova Scotia emerges from coma: relative

HALIFAX — A Nova Scotia man has been brought out of an induced coma, two days after a fast-moving house fire killed most of his young family, including a three-month-old baby, a relative says.

“He was in pretty rough shape,” said Ervin Olsen of Yarmouth, N.S., the great-grandfather of two of the four youngsters killed in the blaze early Sunday in rural Pubnico Head.

The father, local fisherman Phil Prouty, came out of the coma late Monday and was speaking, but his prognosis remained unclear, Olsen said in an interview Tuesday.

His granddaughter, Emma Kennedy, has stayed by her common-law partner’s side in a Yarmouth hospital, mourning the loss of their blended family and a cousin as he struggled to survive, he said.

“I think he had taken in a whole lot more smoke than my granddaughter,” Olsen said. “I don’t know whether he still needed assistance with his breathing. It’s a hopeful sign, but that’s about all we can say.”

Kennedy appears to be in good health, though she remains distraught about her family’s devastating loss, he said.

“She is not leaving him, and she is staying there all the time, until he gets better,” he said. “That’s all she has left. It’s him.”

A relative in Newfoundland who has launched a fundraising campaign for the family has said the victims ranged in age from an infant to a seven-year-old and included a cousin who was at the home for a sleepover.

Olsen identified his great-grandchildren as three-month-old Winston and four-year-old Jayla. He said he couldn’t offer details about the two other children who died in the blaze, out of respect for the other families involved.

He said he last saw little Winston before Christmas.

“He was just a little guy and the father was crazy over him,” he said. ”When his father was laying in his room, struggling to be alive, there was this tiny camo jacket in a chair alongside of him … a little boy’s jacket.”

As for Jayla, Olsen said the blonde-haired four-year-old was a remarkably mature little girl.

“She was a people person, even though she was a little kid,” he said. “She seemed like she was beyond her age … She was so lovable, so intelligent, so cute and so friendly. She would high-five you … always with a smile.”

Olsen recalled snapping a photo of the girl after she was told she couldn’t dip her finger into the frosting of a cupcake.

“She came back in and was pouting a little bit,” he said. “That’s the picture I have of her.”

Olsen praised the Canadian Red Cross for offering help to his extended family, and he said they were grateful for at least two local fundraising efforts.

One local lobster fisherman has offered to donate everything he earns when he goes out fishing Wednesday, Olsen said. ”That guy is a bright light in a dark tunnel,” he said.

“All of this encouragement seems to flow with healing in some ways. And I’ve passed this along to my granddaughter, who is overwhelmed with the loss … but it does help her.”

Meanwhile, three local funeral homes have come together to cover the cost of funerals, Global TV reported Tuesday.

And accounts in trust have been set up at Credit Union and Royal Bank of Canada branches in Atlantic Canada. Donations can be made under the name Pubnico Fire Relief Fund. The funds will be administered by the Municipality of Argyle and community members.

Police and the province’s chief medical examiner have yet to release any details about the victims’ identities.

Chief medical examiner Matt Bowes issued a statement Tuesday saying his office has finished its work at the scene of the fire, which was searched by an RCMP cadaver dog on Monday. Bowes said the next steps include autopsies and other scientific work related to identification.

“The results will be shared directly with the families, RCMP and Office of the Fire Marshal,” Bowes said.

The cause of the fire remains under investigation, but the RCMP have ruled out foul play. The Medical Examiner Service is now leading the investigation.

West Pubnico Fire Chief Gordon Amiro has said flames had already engulfed the home by the time firefighters arrived just after midnight on Sunday night. The couple were taken away in an ambulance before the fire trucks showed up about 12 minutes after they were alerted to the fire along the province’s southwest shore — about 265 kilometres southwest of Halifax.

Olsen said many families have reached out to him to offer support.

“There’s a lot of people who have told me that when they put their kids to bed at night now, they give them an extra squeeze and tell them that they love them — and they take a second look.”

Just Posted

Red Deer police recover stolen Second World War German army passport, trying to find owner

A rare, Second World War era German passport was recovered by police… Continue reading

Four Red Deer skiers off to Alberta Winter Games

Four young Red Deer skiers are headed to the Alberta Winter Games.… Continue reading

Hurry Hard: Red Deer Oilmen’s Bonspiel starts on Friday

A January tradition in Red Deer, the Oilmen’s Bonspiel takes to the… Continue reading

City Hall briefly evacuated

Carbon monoxide false alarm behind evacuation

Charges laid in home invasion in Maskwacis

Three people injured with stab wounds

WATCH: Marijuana in the Workplace information luncheon held in Red Deer

Central Alberta businesses need to prepare for the legalization of marijuana. That… Continue reading

WATCH: Red Deer city council debates cost-savings versus quality of life

Majority of councillors decide certain services are worth preserving

Got milk? Highway reopened near Millet

A southbound truck hauling milk and cartons collided with a bridge

Stettler’s newest residents overcame fear, bloodshed to come here

Daniel Kwizera, Diane Mukasine and kids now permanent residents

Giddy up: Red Deer to host Canadian Finals Rodeo in 2018

The CFR is expected to bring $20-30 million annually to Red Deer and region

Ice dancers Virtue and Moir to carry flag at Pyeongchang Olympics

Not since Kurt Browning at the 1994 Lillehammer Games has a figure… Continue reading

Beer Canada calls on feds to axe increasing beer tax as consumption trends down

OTTAWA — A trade association for Canada’s beer industry wants the federal… Continue reading

Most Read


Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $185 for 260 issues (must live in delivery area to qualify) Unlimited Digital Access 99 cents for the first four weeks and then only $15 per month Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $15 a month