A house fire on Sept. 18 was caused by a dishwasher, Deputy Chief Chad Cooper said. (Photo: supplied PRFRD)

Prince Rupert off-duty paramedic saves neighbour from house fire

Fire Department issues warning to check smoke detectors

An off-duty paramedic may have saved his neighbour’s life by recognizing a house fire in the 1200 block of 8th Ave. East on Sept. 17.

Sasha Beer is reported to have alerted the home occupant to the fire and pulled him out the front door thus assisting with his neighbour’s safe exit from the residence.

Just out for a last smoke of the evening, before going to bed, Beer was on his back deck when he noticed the nighttime air was exceptionally smokey. His first thought, was a neighbour was using a pellet stove to warm their house, but when the smoke became thicker and he saw it was escaping from a next-door window his first responders’ instincts kicked in.

Beer told The Northern View on Sept. 22, that he ran through the two back yards to his neighbour’s house and when he saw through a window dark orange rolling flames he called 911 as he simultaneously pounded on the front door.

With the 911 operator directing him to circle the house to describe the extent of the fire, he became “a little freaked out” that his neighbour was not answering the door.

“I saw the flames were now actually coming out of the window. So I ran back down to the front of the house and pounded some more on the door, yelled his name, rang the doorbell. Finally … I could see him coming to the door. He opened it, I grabbed him and yanked him out.”

“He was dazed and a bit confused. He seemed a little out of sorts,” the off-shift BC Ambulance paramedic said.

“Obviously you’re waking up from being asleep and that is disorienting in itself … It was very, very smokey inside the house when he opened the door, which means he had been sucking back that stuff for long enough to get from his room to the front door, which certainly wouldn’t have helped his state of mind at that point.”

Beer said he used his first responder’s training to check his neighbour out for signs of smoke inhalation like smoke and soot around the nose, wrapped him up in a blanket and finished dealing with the 911 operator.

“[For me] it was more of a need to act now kind of thing. I just focused on the task at hand and made sure the things I thought needed to happen happened, which was check on [my neighbour].”

Beer, who is ex-military turned paramedic said this kind of undertaking has been his passion and in his life for a long time. He knows to just focus on the task, and not panic or become overly excited, he said.

“One of the things I always tell myself is it’s not my emergency. Me freaking out is not going to help anything. So I need to be clear-headed so that I can do my job and I can look after people.”

Prince Rupert Fire Rescue crew was dispatched to the residential structure fire shortly before midnight on Sept. 17. Four apparatus trucks and ten fire firefighters attended the scene and had the fire extinguished within three minutes.

Upon arrival at the scene, fire crews completed a 360-degree search of the premises to find smoke coming from the back of the house.

Fire crews quickly entered the home and extinguished the fire located in the kitchen, Deputy Fire Chief Chad Cooper told The Northern View.

The remaining smoke was removed from the home using ventilation fans. Fire damage was limited to a portion of the kitchen and smoke damage to the first floor.

The fire has been determined to be accidental and appears to have started from a dishwasher.

No injuries to the occupant were reported. However, two cats were rescued and a third succumbed to smoke inhalation and heat exposure.

“With the fall season upon us and residents indoors more, please test your smoke alarms to ensure the devices are operational,” Cooper said.

“Changing your smoke detectors and ensuring battery replacement is vital,” the deputy chief said. “A $30 peice of equipment is a cheap investment to save a life.”