A fire was reported at 4:42 a.m. by neighbours of a bungalow at 54 Maywood Rd., said Platoon Chief Doug Voisin. The fire was described as “extensive” by Voisin.
The man living in the home — Harold Dey — was asleep in bed at the time of the fire. He is quadriplegic and was unable to call emergency crews himself once he realized what was happening, said Voisin.
Neighbours who ultimately discovered the fire, called 911 and rescued Dey said the outcome of the ordeal was miraculous.
Rhonda and Tom O’Neill who live a few doors down from the Dey family said it was their dog Chester that acted as an alarm.
“He must have sensed something, he must have smelt it,” Rhonda said. “If it weren’t for the dog we would have still been snoozing.”
Chester, a soft coated wheaten terrier, woke Rhonda around 4 a.m. She said could faintly smell smoke and checked around her house, but couldn’t find the source.
Rhonda went back to bed, but had Tom look outside to see whether he could determine where the smell was coming from.
“I went to the back and I heard all this noise, the crackling, and I could smell it,” Tom said, realizing the smoke was coming from a few houses over.
Tom ran to the Dey family’s house and tried to go in the front door, but the smoke was too thick.
“I heard Harold yelling for help,” Tom said. “I was telling Harold I’ve got to get a phone.”
Tom got the attention of Dey’s immediate neighbour — Andrew Rolf — who called 911.
He said Rolf then entered the house, covering his face with a T-shirt, to reach Dey.
“I crawled in,” Rolf said. “There was a lot of smoke, I couldn’t see anything . . . there was a wall of fire to my right.”
Rolf was able to reach Dey and get him off the bed, Tom said. After running back outside to get fresh air, Rolf and Tom went back in to pull Dey from the house.
They made it to the front porch just as fire crews arrived.
“The neighbours are absolute heroes,” Voisin said. “It was the right two guys at the right place at the right time.”
Once outside, the emotional ordeal was not yet over. No one knew where Dey’s 17-year-old son Kalvyn was and the fire had already engulfed his bedroom.
“We were really worried because we thought Kalvyn was in his bedroom. . . . All (Harold) kept saying was ‘get Kalvyn, get Kalvyn,'” Rhonda said, who sat outside holding Dey until paramedics arrived.
Just before Dey was taken away by ambulance to Grand River Hospital for smoke inhalation, Kalvyn arrived at the scene. He had left the house hours earlier to visit a friend.
“Thank God (Harold) did see him,” Rhonda said
Neighbours at the scene Saturday morning said they were in touch with Dey and that he is in good health. He and his son are likely to stay at a hotel, covered by their insurance, until alternative arrangements are determined.
Tom and Rhonda added that the family was also planning on moving in the next week to a new home in the Doon area. While the fire is likely to change their plans, Rhonda said the Dey family has a close network of friends who will help them recover.
“When I called the hospital they advised me there were several people there with him, there for him and it really left me with an impression that he has quite a circle of friends and family,” Voisin said.
A firefighter was also taken to the hospital for second- and third-degree burns to his hands. Voisin said the firefighter has been treated and released with no further injuries.
An investigation found the fire was accidental, caused by careless use of a candle.
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