A man who rescued a family from their house when they didn’t know it was on fire in the middle of the night received an award from council at its Valentine’s Day meeting.
James Giles, who goes by Jay, was presented with the award by mayor Carol Leclerc, who said the family he saved was lucky to have him.
Giles said on October 18 last year, he and his son Joseph returned to their McRae Crescent home late at night from Joseph’s hockey game, had something to eat and was in bed for a few minutes when the bedroom window lit up the room like it was daytime.
He looked out the window and saw 20-foot high flames coming out of the roof of the neighbour’s house across the street.
He called to his wife Jennifer to call 911, grabbed some clothes to put on and ran across the street to the neighbour’s house that was burning.
He banged on the door until a woman opened it and she didn’t know the house was on fire.
Giles said she could’ve been already suffering from smoke inhalation because she didn’t seem to even be aware that she was standing in smoke.
Her children were asleep and he got her out, ran in to get the son out, then went back in to get the daughter and the mom, who had gone back inside.
“It happened really fast,” he said, adding that the fire department arrived quickly and had the fire out so fast. He commented to fire chief John Klie, who had come to council chambers to see Giles get the award, that the firefighters were really great.
Leclerc presented him with a plaque “in recognition of [Giles’] heroism and courageous action when you led a family to safety during a house fire in October 2016.”
“These don’t get handed out very often so this is quite a privilege and opportunity to be able to present this to you,” said Leclerc.
“It was a bit of a panic and for the rest of that week, everyone on our street came together,” said Giles’ wife Jennifer, adding that her children took care of the kids from the house, got them bundled in blankets and got them hot chocolate and food.
“I hope no one ever experiences what we did,” she said.
The neighbours all exchanged phone numbers, reminded each other to check their smoke detectors, and made a plan for if another fire ignited in the crescent, she said.
Leclerc said the firefighters are part of Emergency Support Services and are an example of being there on the spot and ready to go.
She added that the department was looking for more volunteers, suggesting that Giles’ son could apply in future, and that for Giles, even though the deadline to apply was the previous day, she was sure the department would still accept his application.
Giles said he had submitted an application.
“We’re very happy to have you as part of our community,” said Leclerc.