At approximately 1:30 a.m. on Nov. 12, Aaron Milburn woke to the sound of crackling coming from the basement of the Fourth Avenue Rossland rental property he and his wife Sherelle lived in.
Milburn initially assumed their seven-month-old kittens were up to mischief and the reason for the noise was coming from the basement. But as he lay awake in bed he could not possibly think what the kittens could be doing to cause this sort of noise and he left the comfort of his warm bed to investigate.
That decision was probably one that saved the Milburns’ lives and was quickly realized upon opening the basement door. Flames leapt out and Aaron quickly shut the door and screamed to Sherelle, who was still asleep upstairs, to wake up and get out.
The couple quickly evacuated their home but with the stairs to the basement on fire, their kittens Will and Lola, were still trapped in the basement. Once outside the Milburns rescued their precious kittens by breaking a basement window and scooping them up from amongst the flames.
“They are very special to us,” Sherelle said of the rescued kittens.
Aaron dialed 911 and within 10 minutes the emergency services arrived to extinguish the fire and examine the occupants.
“It felt like forever but in hindsight it was pretty quick,” she said of the response time for help. The cause of the fire is still unknown.
The Milburns also reported that their smoke detectors did not go off.
No lives were lost and neighbouring properties were not damaged as a result of the early morning fire.
“Aaron was taken to hospital and treated for smoke inhalation; it’s not life threatening but he does have to use a puffer,” his new wife said.
The couple was married just two months ago and had boxes of wedding gifts packed away. They were saving for a home of their own and planning to move at the end of November. Sadly most of the Milburns’ belongings were destroyed in the fire and all they are left with is the clothes on their backs.
“The house is destroyed; if stuff is not burnt or melted then it has water damage,” Sherelle said.
The newlyweds are temporarily staying with Sherelle’s sister who lives on the same street as the burned property.
“It has been overwhelming,” Sherelle said of the ordeal.
Members of Sherelle’s family have set up a trust account in the couple’s name with the Trail branch of Kootenay Savings Credit Union. Family and friends are asking the community to donate to the fundraiser in an effort to help the young couple get back on their feet. Donations can also be made through the website GoFundMe at gofundme.com/h8oxxg.
“Everyone has been very supportive, we are very grateful of the contributions,” Sherelle says of the community’s support so far.
As a result of the incident, the City of Rossland, where both Aaron and Sherelle’s mothers are long-term employees, has urged people to test their smoke detectors to ensure they are working and reminds everyone to discuss an evacuation plan for their household before a similar incident occurs.