'I'm one of many fortunate ones': A harrowing story of escape from lethal Barrhaven hearth



Sabrina Martino and her cat, Gizmo

Sabrina Martino is haunted by what she noticed and heard Tuesday morning when hearth consumed her Barnstone Drive apartment advanced and claimed the lives of two of her upstairs neighbours.

However on Wednesday afternoon, the 45-year-old single mother stated her “coronary heart was singing.” She escaped the fireplace alive and on Wednesday her cat, Gizmo, was discovered hiding inside her water-logged basement residence.

“I misplaced all the pieces, however I’ve greater than the others,” Martino stated in an emotional interview Wednesday afternoon. “The others had been utterly burnt out and never solely that, two lives are gone. I’m feeling very humble and gracious and responsible. I really feel responsible. I really feel like I’m the fortunate one.”

The hearth gutted the four-story advanced, leaving eight households homeless. It killed an 81-year-old lady and a 46-year-old man. A girl within the unit managed to flee.

Martino was on the telephone along with her pal Lisa Cirone — uncommon, given the hour — when she heard the fireplace alarm go off.

“I heard the alarms, however I wasn’t smelling smoke. I used to be on the telephone a very good 5 minutes and the entire time the fireplace was roaring however I didn’t comprehend it. I stated ‘Woman, why are they going off? It’s two within the morning. I doubt it is a check.’”

Then Martino heard crashing from the unit upstairs.

“I stated ‘Lisa, one thing’s mistaken. I’ve to go verify.’ So I opened up my patio door and at that time I didn’t see something. I stepped onto my patio and I heard these crinkling noises. I stated, ‘What the hell?’ And I glanced up and I used to be beneath the fireplace. I used to be trying up into the fireplace. I stated, ‘Oh my god Lisa, it’s on hearth!’ and he or she stated, ‘Sabrina get the f— out!’”

Martino thought of going inside to search for Gizmo, but it surely was too late. She left the patio door open and ran. Cirone, who lives simply across the block, was there in a flash, and needed to strive a rescue herself.

“Lisa was going to be a hero. She was going to go as much as the second flooring and get them out. I stated, ‘Lisa you’ll be able to’t! It’s too vicious.’ I needed to struggle her off and when the cops arrived I stated, ‘You’ve acquired to assist me’ cease her.

“She’s coping with a variety of guilt too,” Martino stated. “She says, ‘I might have kicked these doorways down,’ and I stated. ‘Lisa, you don’t understand how heavy these doorways are. You couldn’t do it.’”

Martino was surprised by how briskly the fireplace unfold.

“It was essentially the most devastating factor I’ve ever witnessed. It simply went up like paper. By the point firefighters acquired there it was all the best way up the roof.”

An aged lady within the high unit often lives alone, however on Monday night time she had her son staying along with her. The girl was ignoring the fireplace alarms, however was made to go away by her son.

“It was like she had a guardian angel along with her. If he hadn’t been there, I’m positive she would have perished too.”

Martino doesn’t have insurance coverage to cowl her property. By merciless destiny, she cancelled her insurance coverage on Friday as a result of she was switching corporations.

“Did I do know this was going to occur three days later? No. However I’m fortunate. It’s simply stuff,” she stated.

Martino’s son, Preston, was staying along with his father the night time of the fireplace, however visited the fireplace scene on Wednesday.

“My son went in there and stated, ‘What a s–t present that is.” He even made the firefighter snigger,” she stated. “My boy is such a robust boy, and I’m so pleased with him.”

Chris Murphy, 24, lives throughout the road from the advanced. He stated he slept by way of all of it, however was devastated to see the destruction Tuesday morning. He’s arrange a

GoFundMe campaign

to lift cash for the households affected.

“I’m simply making an attempt to assist out anyway I can. Instances are onerous, with the virus, however issues can all the time be worse,” stated Murphy, who’s at the moment laid off from his job as a prepare dinner as a result of the Kanata restaurant the place he labored closed because of the novel coronavirus pandemic. He’s nonetheless accumulating names and determining a approach to distribute the cash, which as of Wednesday afternoon had topped $three,500.

“I’ve been reaching out to as many members of the group as I can, making an attempt to unfold the phrase,” he stated.

It was Murphy who discovered Gizmo and related Martino along with her cat.

“This younger man is each mom’s dream come true,” Martino stated. “It’s simply so good to see a lot good on this world.”

Murphy made soup and pasta salad which he was distributing to individuals who wanted it at lunchtime on Wednesday, she stated.

“My Barrhaven group has been wonderful. My neighbours round me have been so wonderful. What a real group of hearts.”

And regardless of the COVID-19 pandemic, she stated, “There’s been a variety of embracing.”

The Ottawa police arson squad is investigating the fireplace, as is commonplace apply at any time when there may be lack of life. No trigger has been decided.

bcrawford@postmedia.com

Twitter.com/getBAC

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