Gilles Gaudreau woke up in bed at 12:30 a.m. on Saturday, Oct. 2 to the smell of smoke in his home in Youbou.
He said his window was open and it’s not unusual for him to smell wood smoke in the middle of the night, but when he opened his bedroom door, he was shocked to see smoke filling his house from the ceiling down to the floor.
“I ran outside with almost nothing on and called the Youbou fire department,” Gaudreau said.
“They were there within five to 10 minutes, although it seemed like forever to me. But the firemen saved my house from burning to the ground and I’m very grateful to them for that. I just feel lucky to be alive. I’m staying with friends for now and I expect it will be some time before I can return to my home.”
It was determined that the fire was caused by an electrical problem and it engulfed an entire side of Gaudreau’s house causing thousands of dollars of damage before the Youbou fire department put it out.
Gaudreau said he doesn’t have insurance to cover the costs.
He has lived in Youbou for many years and is well known and liked there, so the community has stepped up to help him through his ordeal.
Joelle Belanger said she and many of Gaudreau’s neighbours and friends, which include some carpenters, cleaners and members of the Lake Cowichan Kraken Junior B hockey team, began to clean up the house and repair it as soon as they could after the fire department left the scene.
“Gilles is a retired man and we wanted to help him through this,” Belanger said.
“Some of the Lake Cowichan Krakens, who are billeted with me, took the day off of practicing to help. We also started a GoFundMe page to raise money to help with the repairs to the house. The GoFundMe page can be found at https://gofund.me/7516e28f.”
Gaudreau said he feel fortunate to have such good friends.
“I’m overwhelmed that so many people are helping me,” he said.