As they watched firefighters trying to save their Elmwood house Saturday afternoon, Janet Torres and her son, Jerik, breathed a sigh of relief that nobody was hurt.
They weren’t home when the blaze broke out in the 300 block of Union Avenue around 2 p.m. but three other family members were. They were rescued by another of Torres’s sons, Aldrin, who raced home from his nearby workplace when he saw the fire.
But they were beside themselves with worry because Jela, the family’s two-year-old Pomeranian, was missing. The dog was extra special to them because it had belonged to Torres’s mother, who passed away two months ago.
"That’s why the dog means so much to us," Jerik Torres said.
Janet Torres wiped away a tear and said, "she always slept with us. We’re still waiting."
Torres’ daughter-in-law and granddaughter were taken away by ambulance and treated for smoke inhalation.
Torres was also worried that the urn containing her mother’s ashes – which she was planning to take back to the Philippines – might be damaged.
The fire appeared to have started in the kitchen before spreading to the carport and neighbouring house.
As firefighters fought to bring the fire under control, dozens of people gathered around – some clutching coffee cups, others with children in tow – to witness the macabre scene.
A firefighter approached Jerik Torres to see whether he had his car keys with him because his vehicle was in danger of being damaged if the carport roof caved in.
"The keys are in the house," he said with a shrug.
Janet Torres said eight people live in the bungalow, which she bought 12 years ago. The house was insured, she said.