Father and daughter help elderly woman escape house fire

Robert Fraser and his daughter Cassie helped save an elderly woman from a raging house fire on Concession Street Friday evening.
Robert Fraser and his daughter Cassie helped save an elderly woman from a raging house fire on Concession Street Friday evening. (Adam Carter/CBC)

A father and daughter team saved an elderly woman from possible tragedy at an east Mountain house fire Friday evening.

Robert Fraser and his daughter Cassie were driving up Concession Street to grab some pizza and a movie around 5:30 p.m. when Cassie remarked at just how "foggy" it was in the area.

Then they saw the flames. "It looked like a huge bonfire," Fraser told CBC Hamilton. Smoke was billowing out of the first floor of a two-storey home at 978 Concession St., across from Mountain Drive Park. Fraser picked up the phone and called 911.

The operator told him that they'd already received a call from the woman who lived in the home — she was elderly, and needs a wheelchair to get around.

"The 911 operator asked if we could make sure she was out of the house, and I said of course," he said. "So we did a U-turn and we were right there."

The woman had managed to just get out of her house, but her wheelchair was stuck in the mud.

"There was a lot of smoke where she was," Fraser said. "She was quite close. Had she been there for a while the smoke could have overcome her."

They pulled the woman to safety, and Cassie held her hand and comforted her while waiting for fire crews to show up.

"It's fortunate they were there — the fire was pretty intense," said fire official Claudio Mostacci. "If they hadn't helped, it could've been tragedy."

"She was fairly shaken up," Cassie said. "But she was fine after a bit — she just wanted to be comforted."

The elderly woman was the only person home at the time of the fire. She was taken to hospital to be treated for smoke inhalation. There were no other injuries.

By about 6:15 p.m., firefighters had managed to put out the flames that had been "venting out the front living room window," Mostacci said. They stayed until around 8 p.m. dousing spot fires in the home.

Damage is estimated at around $200,000. Officially, the cause is undetermined, but the woman told Cassie she believed her radiator caused the fire. Officials aren't treating the fire as suspicious, Mostacci said.

Both Fraser and his daughter tried to downplay what they did, saying they just acted like anyone would in their position.

"It all happened so quickly you don't even think about it," Fraser said.

"I would honestly expect anyone to do the exact same thing," his daughter added.

That said, Mostacci says the two rescuers might be in line for a commendation from the fire department.

"We're going to discuss it," he said. "The chief asked me to send them something on Monday."