Chester councillor loses everything in early morning fire

by Lighthousenow Staff

Danielle Barkhouse, a councillor for the Municipality of Chester, saw her life's possessions go up in flames after a devastating house fire on August 3.

"I lost everything that I worked 42 years for. But it is getting better," Barkhouse told LighthouseNOW on August 5. Barkhouse was in the house at the time of the fire with her two children. A third child, age nine, was away at the time.

The Chester Volunteer Volunteer Fire Department responded to a 911 call just after 2 a.m. on the Saturday morning with some 50 firefighters from Hubbards, Blandford, Chester Basin, Western Shore, Martin's River, New Ross and Hansport Station 2 attending the blaze at Barkhouse's home at 250 Chester Shore Road.

Chester Fire Chief Everett Hiltz said it took six or seven hours before they were back at the station and ready for the next call.

The cause of the fire remains under investigation.

The Red Cross found a spot for them for three days at the Windjammer Motel and community members have helped with food, money and clothing donations. Monday afternoon, she was able to find a house in Chester for her and her children.

According to Barkhouse, early in the morning her 15-year-old daughter Maddison came screaming into Barkhouse's room, saying that she'd heard a bang, and was yelling: "Fire! Fire!"

Upon waking, Barkhouse saw the house filled with smoke and flames in her room. "I knew my son, Logan - age 22- was downstairs sleeping on the couch, so I opened the door to get him, and I just added more oxygen, and the smoke and flames just came in," she said.

Barkhouse shut the door again and ordered her daughter out the second-storey window, but Maddison balked, so Barkhouse yelled at her to dial 911 and then jumped out the window, landing in a wheelbarrow that was beneath. "I am so bruised and scraped up that it's unreal. I threw the wheelbarrow like I was Hulk woman; then she [Maddison] threw the phone and she jumped down."

They rushed to the front of the house and broke the screen out of the front room window, enabling her son to scramble out.

Barkhouse estimated it took to 15 to 20 minutes for the house to burn down.

In the wake of the fire, Barkhouse said the community has come forward to help her and her children. "It's unbelievable. I literally have nothing," she said. "My community, firefighters, these people are the salt of the earth. I'm so lucky to live here."

She said that she doesn't want to be a burden to anyone, but fully appreciates the support that they have been getting.

Allen Webber, warden for the Municipality of Chester, called Barkhouse a strong woman.

"What she experienced is something that no one wants to experience. To wake up in the middle of the night and realize you only have minutes to get out of your house and you're not sure where all your kids and you're confused at the time," he said.

He said that they've received a lot of emails and phone calls from people trying to find out the best way they could help and they will be looking at what can be done to assist the Barkhouses going forward.

Thank you for printing this article from lighthousenow.ca. Subscribe today for access to all articles, including our archives!