Mount Belcher home destroyed by fire

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The Salt Spring community went an extra mile this Christmas to help a local family who lost their home to a fire just two days previously.

Long-time resident Edwina Badan had lived in a trailer on Mount Belcher Heights for the past five years before it burned to the ground in a matter of hours on Dec. 23. She lost major items and years of memories related to three children and a grandchild.

“The community has really reached out. I’m just beside myself,” Badan said on Dec. 26.

Fortunately, Badan, her nine-year-old son and a 20-year-old son currently living with her were not at home when the fire struck because they had already left the house, having lost power and water after Dec. 20’s epic windstorm. She had been home hours before the fire to collect a few more belongings when it seemed power would not be coming back for some time.

“It looked like we’d be hunkered down for a few days, kind of a mini-vacation, so I had taken some clothes and toiletries with me,” Badan said.

The fire was first noticed just before 5:30 p.m. by Badan’s landlord, who lives on the same property. Salt Spring Fire Chief Arjuna George said a firefighter who lives just down the road arrived a few minutes after the call went out, but by that time the home was already fully involved.

Fire crews were on scene until just before midnight, with 19 firefighters responding despite difficult access on most island roads. They used the tanker shuttle service to access a hydrant further down the mountain.

The cause of the fire remains unknown. One firefighter was treated for minor injuries.

“We’re just happy nobody was home when it happened. Our thoughts go out to the residents,” George said. “To experience a fire just before Christmas is tough on our members, as well as the people who live there.”

The family wound up having a Christmas with presents and stocking thanks to a stranger. Fellow islander Lisa Sigurgeirson Maxx saw a Facebook post and wanted to help even though she was also displaced by the storm, struggling with disability and unable to reach her house at all until Dec. 24. 

Sigurgeirson Maxx and her brother Steve Sigurgeirson spent Christmas Eve with Badan and her sons, delivering food, wrapped gifts and filled stockings along with a tiny Christmas tree.

“It was a beautiful, beautiful way to spend Christmas Eve, actually. It was just a tiny something that we could do,” Sigurgeirson Maxx said.

For more on this story, see the Jan. 2, 2018 issue of the Gulf Islands Driftwood newspaper, or subscribe online.

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