Five minutes later and things could have been much different.
These are the words of Tod Saharchuk, who lost his detached shop to a structure fire on June 28 next to his house on Hill Road.
While he and his two sons were inside the house watching television, they realized the shop behind the house was on fire, with thick smoke already pouring from the building and some flames visible towards the back of it.
“It was rearing its angry head at us even as we looked at it, there was no way we were going to fight that one,” said Saharchuk.
He said there was an instant of frozen shock before he quickly called the fire department and got his two sons and his dogs out of the house to safety.
And he has great respect for the Fort St. James Volunteer Fire Department, calling their response time “exceptional.”
He was very grateful they arrived when they did, just as one corner of the house had begun to burn, and the siding was melting.
“They saved my bacon,” said Saharchuk, who thinks his entire house would have been engulfed if not for the quick response time.
Don Fraser, assistant fire chief for the Fort St. James Volunteer Fire Department, said they got the call around 8:30 p.m. and there was an engine on site within seven to nine minutes.
“The garage was fully involved when we got there,” said Fraser, who agreed the house would have been involved within five to ten minutes more.
Upon arriving, the firefighters quickly got to work and extinguished the fire.
In total, three fire engines, a tanker truck and a command vehicle attended the fire as well as an ambulance, which was luckily not needed. There were 13 firefighters on the scene, and while some were released earlier, some, including Fraser, did not return home until around 1 a.m. the next morning.
The cause of the fire has not been determined according to Fraser.
While Saharchuk is still working with an adjustor to fully assess the value of his loss, the most valuable item in the shop was his motorbike he says, and while he will miss it, he is philosophical about it all.
“It’s just stuff, you can always replace it,” he said, emphasizing the important point was “no one was hurt.”
It has been a slower than usual year for the fire department this year, according to Fraser, who said “we believe fire prevention is starting to work.”