Stittsville family recounts barefoot escape from devastating fire

A charred exterior and a boarded up garage is what remains of Jennifer Enberg’s home after it went up in flames early Saturday morning.

“What woke me up was my son coming into our room saying, ‘Fire, get out,’” she said. “So myself, my one son and his girlfriend and my husband ran out the back door and my other son ran out the front.”

The family lives on Kittiwake Drive in Stittsville. Most of the family escaped into the back yard barefoot and in pyjamas but they were trapped, as piles of snow blocked their only way out.

“The firefighters busted down the gate and got us to the fire truck,” said Enberg.

Ottawa Fire Services reported the fire just before 5:30 a.m. and said a second alarm was called because of the cold. Temperatures had plunged below -30 C.

The family was treated for frostbite and smoke inhalation while Enberg’s husband Mike suffered minor burns on his left hand.

“We grew up in that house, raised a family in that house. All the memories… It’s gone,” he said.

OFS spokesperson Nick DeFazio told CTV News Ottawa that several pets, including a frog, a lizard, a gecko, and a bird, were rescued from the home.

The fire at the Enbergs’ home was one of six fires that Ottawa firefighters battled on Saturday as extreme cold gripped the capital. Crews responded to three fires overnight, a fourth later in the morning, and two more during the day.

Ottawa Fire Services’s Gwen Lewis said the six fires Saturday were all over the city. 

She adds that families should be ready in case a fire does break out. 

“We can do our best to prevent fires and, if a fire was to happen, that’s when your working smoke alarm comes into play and your home escape plan,” said Lewis.

Meanwhile, the Enbergs are trying to pick up the pieces, anticipating it will take some time before they can assess the damage. The frigid temperatures caused a buildup of ice throughout the structure.

“We were in there 21 years. That was our home,” Jennifer Enberg said. “Hoping for it to warm a little bit and hopefully we can get in.”

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