On Thursday, October 4th, Vancouver Fire and Rescue responded to a call at the 900 block of Thurlow of smoke pouring out of the 4th floor of a building.
As a result, Thurlow Street had to be blocked off from Robson to Davie in order for firetrucks to move in. The street remained closed for the majority of the day.
While the building sustained serious damage, the destruction might have been far greater if it had not been for the quick thinking of a Vancouver man.
Vancouver Is Awesome spoke to Derrick McNeil, who lives in the building next door to the one where the fire occurred. At approximately 9 am he smelled smoke and informed the building’s manager.
“I alerted the building manager and we went into the building together to locate the source of the smell,” he explained. “We had an extinguisher and we were looking all around the building, but we couldn’t smell it inside.”
McNeil made sure that he knocked on all of the doors and alerted everyone of the smoke. Finally, as they moved through the building, they discovered the source of the smoke coming from a unit on the 4th floor.
“I could also see that little paws were clawing desperately beneath the door, and I was knocking and yelling, but the owner of the unit had left for work. We were able to get inside the unit, however, and I went in and pulled the dog out of the smoke.”
The building manager had already contacted Vancouver Fire and Rescue Services; however, traffic in the West End was extremely congested at that hour in the morning. McNeil noted that a police car was stopped in traffic outside of the building, and he ran up to inform them about the fire.
Once officers arrived McNeil continued to assist. In fact, he bravely re-entered the smoky building to ensure residents and pets were safely evacuated.
McNeil will receive the highest award for civilian bravery, an Award of Merit, by the Vancouver Police Department. He will accept the accolade at the Chief Constable’s Commendation/Award of Merit Ceremony on Thursday, March 7, 2019,
A number of pets were evacuated from the building, and Vancouver Fire and Rescue shared an adorable image on Twitter of a little kitty getting clean air from a Vancouver firefighter.