‘I could feel the heat on my face’ homeowner said of Songhees fire

Two mobile homes on Middle Road burned on Oct. 23, investigation ongoing

The owner of a mobile home that caught fire in Songhees Nation late last night said she hasn’t been able to sleep for the past 12 hours.

“At first I didn’t know what it was. I heard an explosion. I said, ‘What the hell is that?’” Sheila Bridger said the next morning.

On Oct. 23, two homes on Middle Road in Songhees Nation caught fire, and 39 firefighters helped put out the flames.

Just after 11 p.m., Bridger was sitting on her couch watching TV when she heard a strange noise. When she got up to see what was happening, she heard popping and something hitting their roof. Bridger thought it might be a hail storm, until she looked out the window and saw the mobile home next to hers engulfed in flames.

“I could feel the heat on my face,” Bridger said.

She immediately went to help her husband, who recently had a quadruple bypass and stroke and is legally blind, out of bed. Bridger got her grandchildren out of bed, grabbed the cat and told her sons to move their cars away from the house. (Next door, the neighbour’s car still sits in the driveway, damaged by heat.)

“My place is basically a total loss. I lost everything,” Bridger said, and started to cry. “All the clothes, all the jewelry, all my memorabilia. Things I had for 50 years is gone. It’s pretty devastating because now we don’t know where we’re going to live.”

READ MORE: RCMP still investigating Songhees Nation fire

Bridger said she and her husband moved their family to their mobile home on Middle Road so it would be easier for her to be his full-time caregiver.

“I can’t seem to sleep because I keep thinking about the peace and quiet I was having on the couch and then in the blink of an eye, everything I owned is gone,” she said through tears.

RCMP told Bridger their investigation would take two to three days. A firefighter retrieved her husband’s medication and walking cane from inside their burnt home. In the meantime, Bridger’s family has been offered a room in a hotel, where they spent the night. She doesn’t know yet if the fire is being considered suspicious.

Jorden Bridger, Sheila’s 21-year-old son who also lives in the mobile home, went door-to-door to tell neighbours to evacuate. Sheila Bridger said she doesn’t know if the woman who lives in the home where the fire started had time to warn anyone else. Neighbours told Bridger the woman next door escaped the flames — which she said started on the deck, blocking the front door — by crawling out the kitchen window.

“She was standing there screaming, ‘My cat’s in there, my cat’s in there’,” Bridger said, adding that she thinks the woman was in shock. “I was in shock as well. You do strange things that you wouldn’t normally do when you’re that terrified.”

The cause of the fire is still under investigation but the West Shore RCMP confirmed evidence collected so far suggests the fire is suspicious.

“This fire caused a significant amount of damage … Many lives could have been at risk had it grown further. We are looking for witnesses to come forward and assist us with this investigation,” said Const. Nancy Saggar.

Bridger said she heard people talking about what may have caused it while they were evacuated, but is waiting to hear the official results of the investigation.

“I don’t know if it’s suspicious. All I know is my home is gone and basically so is hers,” Bridger said. “I don’t know which story is true or if any of them are true. I’m not going to point my finger at her until the fire inspector looks at me and says, ‘This is what caused the fire’.

“None of us are police officers, none of us are fire investigators. We’re neighbours. Nobody has the right to judge anybody else.”

READ MORE: Emergency crews respond to structure fire on Songhees Nation


@KeiliBartlett
keili.bartlett@blackpress.ca

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