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Canmore family displaced after house fire

CANMORE – It’s just a house. That was Kamila Borutova’s sentiment while she and her two sons evacuated their home at 2 a.m. last Thursday (Feb.
Larch Place House Fire Aftermath
Aftermath of the devastating house fire in the 800 block of Larch Place in Canmore on Friday (Feb. 22).

CANMORE – It’s just a house.

That was Kamila Borutova’s sentiment while she and her two sons evacuated their home at 2 a.m. last Thursday (Feb. 21) after a small explosion right next door started a fire in the 800 block of Larch Place, resulting in the destruction of a neighbouring house and damage to her own.

“I heard a huge explosion, so I woke up and wondered what was happening, what was going on ... after a minute or two I saw a light in front of my window, so I got up and I saw our neighbours house was on fire,” Borutova said.

Half-asleep and unsure of what was happening, Borutova called 911.

“I had five kids in the house and [911 operators] said to try and leave the house immediately, so I woke up all the kids,” she said.

Typically a home of three, friends were visiting from Europe with their two children, and Borutova’s son had a friend sleeping over that night.

“We woke everyone up and got our jackets, we were still in our pyjamas and some kids got their winter pants too and we left the house,” Borutova said.

Staying outside the house for a couple minutes to watch what was going on, Borutova said she quickly assessed the situation, thought her home would be safe, but still drove to a friend’s house in Dead Man’s Flats for the night.

Meanwhile, Canmore firefighters and RCMP were working to put the fire out and rescue people from inside the burning house next door.

“The whole top floor was in flames and a woman was running around and screaming that two people were inside,” said Victor Koletchko, who had just returned home when he heard
the explosion.

With the Canmore fire department already on scene, local RCMP said half of the house was engulfed with flames with three people outside and one person in the entryway.

“He was pulled away from the residence immediately, [then] members learned that there were still more people in the house and were able to see two silhouettes of people sitting on furniture in the living room area through the front window,” Canmore RCMP Sgt. Stanton Andronyk said in an email.

After the two men in the house did not respond to calls to get out, two RCMP officers, along with firefighters entered the house to remove them.

“The room was smoke filled and the ceiling was on fire ... the two males were conscious, but not responding to police or firefighters. They both had to be dragged outside,” Andronyk wrote.

Both men were taken to the hospital and are in stable condition.

By 7 a.m., crews were still on scene dealing with hot spots and Borutova returned to find her family home had also caught fire.

“When I came back at 8 a.m. and saw it partially burnt our house, I just ugh – I just couldn’t believe it,” Borutova said.

With smoke and water damage, the family was displaced, staying with friends in Dead Man’s Flats before finding another rental in Canmore.

Borutova said despite losing clothing, furniture, hockey equipment and most the of the bedroom stuff, she believes her family is lucky considering the fire was 10 metres away from where Borutova and her youngest son were sleeping.

“We are a small beautiful community. I’m receiving phone calls from people asking if we need anything or any help,” Borutova said with a humble smile.

“People are amazing, totally amazing and it’s wonderful to know that – we don’t have any family here, it’s just me and the kids – and that people care about us. It’s great.”

Grocery gift cards for the family were being collected at the Canmore Family and Community Support Services offices and there is also the possibility of a fundraising event.

The cause of the explosion is still under investigation, but Fire Chief Walter Gahler said they are focusing on an RV that was parked in front of the house.

“We have a very good idea of where it started,” Gahler said. “We are working with the evidence as it comes out.”

At press time, the cause of the fire was still unknown.

Despite everything Borutova is grateful.

“It’s just a house in the end and nobody died, so that is good.”

In August 2017, her husband Richard died after falling while rock climbing the Three Sisters with Borutova and friends.

Jenna Dulewich

About the Author: Jenna Dulewich

Jenna Dulewich is a national and provincial award-winning multi-media journalist. Joining the Rocky Mountain Outlook in 2019, she covers Stoney Nakoda, MD of Bighorn, Canmore and court.
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