A woman from Inkerman Road near Crapaud says she’s still “shaking” after an early Sunday morning blaze in her trailer that forced her to bail out her bedroom window to escape the flames.
Debbie Vanderwal is crediting the smoke detector in the home with waking her around 5 a.m., giving her, along with 11 cats and a dog, time to get out.
"I didn’t see anything, I didn’t smell anything," she said. "I just was out of the trailer. I didn’t even turn on my light. I had opened the window, which was at the head of my bed.
"I grabbed my blankets, grabbed a pair of shoes, and I was out the window. Cats were going out before me and after me."
Prince Edward Island fire marshal Dave Rossiter said the smoke detector likely saved the woman’s life.
He said the fire was caused by a malfunctioning oil furnace.
After slipping out the trailer, Vanderwal said she opened another window to let the rest of the cats out, and the door so the dog could flee.
"It was like a flash," she said. "I don’t remember doing all of that until I had calmed down and took a breath and took a step back. It was just so instantaneously, it was just something that was bred into me, to know instinctively what to do."
It took about 24 hours to round up all the animals. The Red Cross is helping her out, but Vanderwal said she needs to find somewhere permanent to live.
"I’m not worried about me, I’m worried about my animals," she said. "My animals are my children. I don't care about what happens to me, but my animals need a place."