Donations being accepted for residents displaced by Whistler fire 

Residents lost everything in blaze at 'Dog House'

click to enlarge BY JOSHUA CRANE - IN THE DOG HOUSE: The Whistler Fire Department is investigating the cause of a fire on Balsam way, which destroyed the home and most of the possesions of the residents, none of whom were injured in the blaze.
  • By Joshua Crane
  • IN THE DOG HOUSE: The Whistler Fire Department is investigating the cause of a fire on Balsam way, which destroyed the home and most of the possesions of the residents, none of whom were injured in the blaze.

A bank account has been set up and Katmandu Sports is currently accepting donations for the five residents of a Balsam Way house destroyed by fire on Monday afternoon.

The cause is still being investigated by Whistler Fire Rescue Services. The two residents that were home at the time believe it was electrical, starting in the wall of an upstairs bedroom.

Around 5 p.m., the two residents that were home were sitting in the lounge watching television when they smelled something burning. They immediately checked the kitchen, and then followed the smell upstairs. They discovered flames coming out of the wall of one bedroom.

They battled the fire with blankets and used a fire extinguisher from next door, but soon it became apparent that the fire was in the wall and that there was too much smoke to remain upstairs.

"He (roommate) really did everything he could to put it out, he was getting burnt and his beard was singed," said Daniel Tulloh, who occupied one of the other rooms with his girlfriend since the start of the ski season.

When they went downstairs Whistler Fire Services was arriving. They grabbed jackets and snowboards from the front hallway, and left the house. By then, according to firefighters, fire was visible on two floors of the house.

Tulloh has appreciated all the help he's received since the incident, and has already found a temporary place to stay with a friend. Having only recently arrived, they lost less than their roommates that had been in Whistler for several years.

However, the loss of passports has created a few issues.

"One of the main reasons why we (Tulloh and his girlfriend) came over here was to go to Coachella (music festival), and we can't travel down there on emergency passports. And we've got our flights booked for April 9," said Tulloh. He's working to get replacement passports through the Australian consulate, but knows it will be difficult with less than two weeks from the fire to the flight.

A visit to the house on Thursday didn't provide any clues to what started the fire, according to duty chief Jeff Playfair, but the fire department will be interviewing the residents to try and get more information.

"We have some ideas (what the cause was) but none of which are particularly obvious or supported by the evidence on scene," he said. The fire damage was so extensive that they're looking for areas that have more burn damage or where the fire may have passed through a few times.

There was no danger to the surrounding homes, but it took several hours and more than 20 firefighters to put out the blaze completely. A large portion of the house was severely damaged.

According to a friend, who has asked not to be named, the five residents staying there are shocked. They were already mourning the recent deaths of friends Mike Grefner and David Christian in separate incidents, and now they are dealing with the loss of their house and possessions as well.

Donations can be made at Scotiabank under the name "Whistralian Survivors." As well, friends are setting up a bank account at TD Canada Trust, and at PayPal through a Facebook page that is being created. The goal is to raise enough for a damage deposit and a first month of rent at another house, as well as to replace some of the possessions they've lost with new or used items.

The building, known locally as the Dog House, was older, but recently the landlord had spent money fixing walls damaged by previous tenants and replacing doors.

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