The last time Natalie McGrath saw her ex-husband Richard Vida was at his mother’s funeral a few weeks ago.
Now, McGrath and the couple’s three children are preparing to attend Vida’s funeral after the 47-year-succumbed to smoke inhalation following a fire that tore through his Hillside-area home last Tuesday.
“We’re all pretty devastated, but we’ve just band together like a whole bunch of troopers,” said McGrath, noting the couple’s teenage daughter lost everything in the fire. The 17-year-old lived with her father full time, while one of their sons lived with him half of the time.
“There’s been an amazing outreach of support from Spectrum Community School…people have donated money to replace possessions and have been offering to help in whatever way they can. The school has really gone far and beyond the call of duty.”
At around 6:43 p.m. on Nov. 22, firefighters were called to a bungalow at 2951 Scott Rd. after several reports of smoke and flames coming out the back side of the home.
When crews entered through the front door of the home they found a man on the floor. Firefighters were able to douse the flames and get the man out outside. He later died on the way to the hospital. The cause is still under investigation.
McGrath received a call from her daughter, who was at work, shortly after the blaze began. All they knew was that there had been a fire and Vida was in the hospital.
“I thought maybe he burned himself or his hand or something,” McGrath said.
Vida worked as a freelance software engineer consultant with a number of companies in Victoria.
McGrath will remember him most for his sense of humour and love for his family, which she said always came first.
“He was very kind and very generous, loved animals and loved his kids,” said McGrath, who met Vida when she was 15.
“We’ve had people reach out to us from many, many years ago. It’s overwhelming….it’s really helped the children.”
The blaze marks the third fire crews have battled in Victoria in less than a week.
On Nov. 18, an early morning fire tore through the Evergreen Terrace Townhouses, located at 829 Hillside Ave. The fire caused an estimated $1 million in damage and displaced more than 30 residents from their homes.
And on the afternoon of Nov. 23, crews were called to Spinnakers Pub after a fire was sparked in the hearth of a fireplace on the second floor. Flames were seen shooting through the roof, causing an estimated $300,000 in damage. The brewery was not damaged by the fire.