In a smoke-filled bedroom in a burning building, Dwight McIvor and his family said goodbye to each other Monday night.
"For a few moments, I kind of felt horrible — kind of felt bad. But then at that moment there, we had a prayer and we said our goodbyes, said we love you," the 20-year-old said Wednesday.
"We had a horrible moment there that we felt like we weren't going to make it … It was very, very intense to go through something like that."
He and his younger brother, Lester, his cousin, Dylan and his mother, Nancy, were four of six people rescued by firefighters from the third floor of their apartment building at 489 Furby St., after a fire broke out on the second storey. Six other people escaped on their own, and the building next door was evacuated because of the heavy smoke and water used in firefighting efforts.
The effort involved nearly 60 crew members on rotation and lasted into the following morning. The McIvor family lost everything except what they were wearing and have been staying in a relative's one-bedroom apartment down the street.
On Wednesday, they got to meet some of the firefighters who rescued them, and were handed a cheque for $500 to help them rebuild.
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"I'm happy to see them all together as a family. No one got hurt and that's the bottom line," said Lt. Scott Lucas, one of four firefighters who broke down the door and found the family.
"It's hard, and especially this time of year, to see a family lose most of everything they have including their shoes. But family is everything, and lives saved is worth it enough."
'It was horrific'
Dwight McIvor was in his bedroom playing video games Monday night when he heard the building's fire alarm go off and thought nothing of it. The alarm went off frequently in the building for no reason, he said.
"Right away, at the moment, I dismissed the idea of a fire because it happens all the time,so I just continued on playing [the] game," he said.
"But I made sure to listen out. I heard my younger brother open the front door and I was listening for him … A minute later, I heard him running up the stairs, I heard him say, 'a real fire.'"
He went to the living room to see what was going on without turning off his game. Through the headset he left sitting in his bedroom, he said the friends he was playing with could hear parts of the commotion.
Both the front and back doors were blocked by smoke so thick they couldn't see, so the family made its way to Dwight's bedroom, where the smoke was lighter.
They huddled there for more than half an hour before Lucas and his team broke down the door and escorted them out.
"We were at the verge of saying goodbye to one another and saying our goodbyes, and to be saved like that and to hear somebody breaking the doors and opening that door, says, 'I got four here!' — I knew we were going to get saved," Nancy McIvor said.
Lucas said it was a relief for him, too.
"It's a relief to know you got everyone off that floor. That's what you're tasked to do, that's what you want to make sure happens," he said. "You don't want to leave anyone behind. The guys did a crackerjack job."
Dwight McIvor said the meeting was "amazing."
"We relived that night ... ever since it happened. [From] the moment we were leaving to the moment we were in the hospital to even today, right now. We keep reliving that moment of almost dying, because it's a very traumatic experience. It was horrific. It was very scary, and I'm glad we made it out alive," he said.
"That was the most relieving feeling I have ever felt was seeing that firefighter come through my bedroom door, and seeing someone come save us where we felt like there was nothing we could've done."