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B.C. man with prosthetic leg rushes in to save neighbour from burning trailer

Stacy Duchscherer: ’Her face was burned, her hair was all singed’
Kim Duchscherer, left, and Stacy Duchscherer saved their neighbour from a burning trailer in Hilliers on Feb. 26. (Photo courtesy of Stacy Duchscherer)

A Hilliers woman is lucky to be alive after she was rescued from a burning mobile home by her neighbours.

On Monday (Feb. 26) Stacy Duchscherer and his wife Kim Duchscherer stopped by to check on their home, which was being renovated, when he saw thick smoke coming from his neighbour’s residence.

At first he thought someone might be burning garbage in their backyard, but soon realized the smoke was coming from his elderly neighbour’s home.

“My wife ran to the front door and I went to the back porch and I climbed in, up the stairs and I looked in,” said Duchscherer, who was glad he happened to be wearing his prosthetic leg that day, as he spends most of his time in a wheelchair. “You could hardly see there’s so much smoke. I yelled ‘hello!’ and I didn’t hear anything. I walked further in, but you couldn’t see because it was black. There was smoke everywhere. I couldn’t breathe.”

He yelled again and this time he heard a little voice call back to him. Duchscherer could make out a small figure walking through the smoke.

The woman, her face blackened by smoke, asked Duchscherer to help her put out the fire.

“And I said, ‘no, no we have to get out, you can’t go back in,’” he said. “She started back in, to what I later learned was her bedroom, but you couldn’t see it was so black.”

Duchscherer had to step back outside onto the porch to grab a deep breath. Holding his breath, he went back inside, unable to see past his nose because of the thick smoke.

He found his neighbour still attempting to put out the fire amid the confusion. Duchscherer put his arm around her and guided her out of the trailer, aided by the sound of his wife’s voice at the front door.

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Duchscherer checked the trailer to make sure no one else was inside. Worried about gas lines, he left, then called 911 and sat down with Kim and the neighbour.

“Her face was burned, her hair was all singed,” Duchscherer said.

One person was transported to hospital, according to Fire Chief Ron Schildroth, of the Coombs-Hilliers Volunteer Fire Department.

Duchscherer is just glad he was there to help and said he doesn’t think his neighbour would have survived more than a few minutes longer in the burning trailer.

“It was pure luck we were there at that time. And it’s weird because you always wonder what you would do,” he said. “We didn’t even think, we just bolted. My wife went in the front and I went in the back.”

He and his wife had stopped by on a whim to check out the home that day.

“We weren’t even going to be there,” he said. “We just at the last minute thought, ‘let’s go to the house’. Because it’s supposed to be finished this week.”

The smoke inhalation gave both Duchscherer and his wife headaches, even the day after the fire, plus sore throats and tight chests.

He is concerned for his neighbours, who are both elderly and now have lost their home.

“Their lives are going to be in turmoil,” Duchscherer wrote in a follow-up email to the PQB News. “And that’s sad, because they are both in their later years, and are both unable to walk, lift or move things. Happiness for sure as they are both alive, but sad because they’ve lost everything.”

The fire department was paged out at approximately 10:45 a.m. and within the hour the fire was out and crews were clearing the scene, Schildroth added.

CHVFD was assisted by the Errington, Qualicum Beach, Dashwood and Parksville departments.

The cause of the fire is under investigation, according to Schildroth.


Kevin Forsyth

About the Author: Kevin Forsyth

As a lifelong learner, I enjoy experiencing new cultures and traveled around the world before making Vancouver Island my home.
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