MOUNT DENSON, N.S. - Several fire departments responded to a reported chimney fire at a home along the 500 block of Highway 1 in Mount Denson, but while one crew was en route, they noticed something strange floating in the water just outside Hantsport.
A grey Toyota Corolla, with only its roof showing, was floating in a small pond, just off of the highway connector road after Highway 101's Exit 8.
Captain Ryan Richard, with the Brooklyn Volunteer Fire Department, who was headed to the chimney fire, noticed the car and stopped to investigate.
“I just happened to look to my right and all I could see at the time was a grey patch, which was the roof (of the car), totally submerged,” Richard said. “It was only sticking out of the water, maybe six inches.”
Richard immediately turned the truck around, finding two people outside of the car, who had managed to get themselves out.
He said the two people involved included a woman in her 30s and a young girl, approximately five- or six-years old.
“They lost control of the vehicle due to the road conditions,” he said. “The car rolled once on the embankment and then went in the water on its roof and then flipped back around on its wheels.”
Richard said he was amazed that both were able to get out of the car safely.
“I’m not a real big spiritual person, but there’s somebody with them today,” he said. “It’s absolutely a miracle.”
He said the two passengers were severely hypothermic and disoriented, both had scrapes and bruises as well.
They were sent to the Hants Community Hospital but were warmed up in the fire vehicle beforehand.
“We removed all of their clothing and actually had members remove some of their own to provide the patients with warm clothing,” he said.
A couple of firefighters went in the water with wetsuits to make sure nobody else was inside the vehicle.
“We gave the girl one of our teddy bears, it really made her day,” Richard said. “We keep four or five of them on our trucks at all times, we have them available for our young patients, helps them with these high stress, high anxiety moments. It really helped her.”
The car was pulled out of the water via a tow truck.
Richard said at the time another vehicle was stopped at the side of the road to help.
“I can’t even express how lucky they are,” he added. “She had a baby that she was also going to bring with her today, but didn’t have them with her.”
Firefighters from Hantsport, Brooklyn and Windsor and more also responded to the chimney fire shortly after the noon hour on the same day.
Hantsport Fire Department deputy chief Paul Maynard said they got the call for the chimney fire around 12:25 p.m.
“It was fairly routine initially,” Maynard said. “We sent out an auto-aid with our mutual aid partners because chimney fires can be unpredictable, but that’s when things got odd.”
After the mutual aid call went out, Maynard realized something else was going on when one of the squads from the Garlands Crossing detachment came across a submerged vehicle.
“There was an adult and young child in that vehicle who escaped, very fortunately,” he said. “We rerouted our heavy rescue, who was initially responding to the chimney fire, to the vehicle.”
A pumper from the Windsor Fire Department was routed to Mount Denson to help with the fire.
“When we accessed the roof, we found a large crack in the chimney and there was no access to the attic, so we had to make an attic hatch and gain entry,” he said. “We were worried that the crack had extended below, but fortunately there was no fire in the attic, but certainly a close call.”
Maynard said it was a stubborn chimney fire to extinguish, but they were eventually able to knock it down.
No injuries were reported from the fire. Both occupants left the home without incident.
Maynard said the home was undamaged, however, the chimney will need extensive repairs.
“There was extensive creosote built up in the chimney that resulted in the fire,” he said. “We’ve had a number of chimney fires already this winter and they can be really stubborn or turn into something much worse.”
Maynard recommends people get their chimney cleaned at least once a year, more frequently if it sees heavy use.