BRUDENELL – At a time in life when most people are enjoying the fruits of their labours, John Shields must start over. A fire that raged most of last Tuesday has left the 73-year-old Brudenell man homeless and visibly shaken.
Firefighters answered the emergency call shortly after noon February 21, but by the time they arrived minutes later, “the cabin was engulfed in flames and starting to spread to an adjacent shed,” Brudenell station captain Tammy Thompson stated.
“It went pretty fast,” she said.
The 17 firefighters on scene were able to save the shed but not the cedar log cabin.
“The roof had collapsed and was on the floor and there was a lot of stuff in the house,” township fire chief John Rutledge told The Valley Gazette.
“Logs are more difficult because the fire gets into the cracks of the wood. We had to practically dismantle the building to make sure the fire was out,” he added.
It was a neighbour who made the 911 call; Shields was too busy trying to put the fire out.
Flames licked his heels as he escaped with just the clothes on his back, he said.
“He was understandably upset,” Thompson recalled.
“It’s hard to lose a home. It is fortunate that no one was hurt and we’re sorry for his loss,” she said on behalf of the fire department.
Shields moved into the 18 x 22 foot cedar log cabin left to him by his younger brother Leo about four years ago. Shields didn’t bother putting insurance on the two story building because, “The thing is they wouldn’t give you anything if you did have insurance because they classified it as a shack,” he said.
The Finemount Road location had running water and a three piece bathroom Shields installed himself shortly after moving in. He lived there alone until a year ago last October when a neighbour gave him a cat for his birthday.
This story continues in the March 1 issue of The Valley Gazette.