John Gillander was still able to crack a smile while sitting under a tree in his yard on Monday waiting for an insurance adjuster.
The 79-year-old retired Manitoba farmer lost his mobile home and most of his possessions in a Sunday fire at Les’s Trailer Park, but the main thing was he had his four dogs safely with him.
Gillander was singing the praises of his smoke detector, which he credits for helping save his life and the lives of his four pooches at the trailer park located just west of Red Deer off Hwy 11, on Burnt Lake Trail.
The fire, which was reported to Red Deer County Emergency Services around 2 p.m. on Sunday, burned the back end of his home. He believes it started in an adjoining shed.
The fire scorched most of the inside of the modest home, which also suffered smoke damage.
Gillander said he didn’t know the cost of the damage but estimated it would be a write-off.
“I had insurance but a lot of my stuff was lost,” said Gillander.
He said the smoke alarm near his kitchen went off just as he was about to have lunch on Sunday.
After checking the alarm, he turned around and noticed smoke and flames at the back end of the home.
Scooping up his dogs, he left quickly and put them in his vehicle while phoning 911.
Firefighters managed to save part of the trailer.
Tom Metzger, county assistant fire services manager, said 18 firefighters responded.
Metzger said the fire isn’t suspicious.
“The firefighters figured it started in the shed in a pile of wood dust,” Gillander said.
He hadn’t used his saw that day but may have on Saturday.
Gillander, who has lived in the park for about 13 years, stayed at a neighbour’s overnight.
“My neighbour washed some of my clothes to get the smoke out.”
Gillander said he’s always had a smoke alarm and also had a gas detector in the house.
“I can’t say enough about how good they are when you need them,” he said.
The home is surrounded by flowers, some of which were destroyed by heat from the fire.
“They’ll grow again. I’ve always loved flowers, you know, from working the land so long.”
Metzger said the value of smoke alarms was proven again Sunday.
“It’s very important to have your smoke alarms working.
“Time and time again it’s been proven how well they work and save lives,” Metzger said.
He advised the public to ensure their alarms are in working order and if they don’t have some in the house, to get them.