The family that used to reside at 25 Elm Crescent knows they didn’t lose everything in a recent house fire, and are thanking for a crucial series of events and especially one person.
Homeowner Liz Pope is crediting the successful split-second escape by her daughter and granddaughter to family friend Brette Jameson, who just happened to do many things at the right time that evening.
Pope’s daughter Taylor had plans with Jameson for the evening of April 4. Jameson stopped by the home where 21-year-old Taylor Pope lived with her mother and young daughter Nevaeh. Taylor was in the shower, so Jameson walked through the front door to wait.
“That door is usually locked, but for some reason it wasn’t,” said the 19-year-old Jameson. “Taylor is so protective she never would have left the door unlocked. And I usually don’t ever walk into a house like that, but this time I did.”
It was then that she did a quick walk around the house, realized that her friend was in the shower and plunked herself down on the couch to wait. But almost instantly she began smelling smoke, and it began billowing in clouds down the hallway as the power went out.
She got Taylor out of the shower to discover little 11-month-old Nevaeh had been sleeping in the room where the fire originated and it was filled with smoke and flames. An intense orange glow was their only light source. They got into the room and fire was everywhere, circling and beginning to engulf the bed. By the time they were leaving the home, flames had already reached the other end of the hallway.
Jameson suffered minor burns to her face from the heat, but she didn’t realize that until later.
“I was so panicked. I never felt like that before,” she said. “After I grabbed the baby, I stopped thinking and just went.”
Neveah was treated in Hay River before being flown to Yellowknife and then on to Edmonton, where she has undergone skin-grafting surgery and is currently recovering from second-and-third-degree burns on one side of her body.
“When I think of Brette, I think of her as a hero,” said homeowner Liz Pope. “She went in there and got Taylor and Neveah out of the house. If she wasn’t there, I don’t know if Taylor would have realized what was happening, and it would have been too late. Not all young people would have acted the way she did.”
Currently, the family has set up in Edmonton near the burn unit of the University of Alberta Hospital to support Taylor and Nevaeh before they return to Yellowknife and then to Hay River.
Jameson still talks to Taylor every day.
“She always thanks me,” said Jameson. “Sometimes I think I wish I had done things differently, like check the room first. At the hospital, Liz kept thanking me and I didn’t know what to say. It’s my best friend and her baby. I didn’t think. I just acted.”
Liz Pope said the outpouring of support has been overwhelming, from financial and material donations to messages of help and encouragement. They have come from Hay River, communities around the North and family around the world.
Liz Pope is admittedly still shaken by the incident, but is trying to remain a rock of support for her young family.
“I’m just so thankful and grateful we’ve had an influx of support from people,” she said. “My primary concern is Taylor and Nevaeh. I want to make sure they have everything they need. I’m counting my blessings. My daughter and granddaughter are alive.”