Portage family upset with loss of house 0
Meda Pao outside her house on Victoria Avenue in Portage la Prairie on Thursday. The house was severely damaged in a fire Wednesday and arson is suspected. (Angela Brown, Portage Daily Graphic, QMI Agency)
A Portage la Prairie family is upset after their house was severely damaged in a fire this week. The cause of the fire is believed to be arson.
Meda Pao and her husband George own the house on Victoria Avenue near Third Street N.E. that was damaged in the blaze that happened at 1:30 am Wednesday.
"I was shocked," said Pao when she received the call from the police early Wednesday morning, saying her house was on fire.
The house, which the Paos now rent out, was vacant at the time of the fire as it was undergoing some repairs. While Meda and her husband now live in another house in Portage, the loss is still hard to take.
Meda is hoping the insurance company will be able to help with the costs of the restoration work the house will now need as a result of the fire damages.
She said her family grew up in that house and she was hoping to keep it as future a retirement home for herself and her husband.
She is especially upset to hear the RCMP believe the cause of the fire to be arson.
Meda said she and her husband, who own Dick's Cafe, are hard-working community-minded people who are respectful of others. So to think that someone would set a fire to her house deliberately is upsetting.
"I'm angry," she said. "If it's arson, kids could have been doing something they thought would be fun. But there are serious consequences. There is a loss of property, and if someone was (in the house), there could have been a loss of life."
Firefighters were called to the blaze at about 1:30 a.m. The crews were able to put out the fire, but there was severe damage to the kitchen area and the entire house suffered extreme smoke damage. Portage Emergency Services estimates the damage value to be roughly around $100,000.
The situation could have been even worse if Pao's former next door neighbour did not see the fire in the early stages.
Kae Stewin was sitting by her kitchen table early in the morning at the time.
Her kitchen looks onto the side of the house that Pao owns.
“I was reading and thought, maybe I'll go to bed," Kae said.
When she happened to look out her window, she saw the window of the house next door turn a bright orange colour. Then she saw a flame. She quickly picked up the phone and called 911.
"I was so scared. I was petrified," she said.
Stewin was at home with her husband at the time and said if she didn't happen to see the fire just as it started, her home, which was only about 15 feet away from the other house, could have gone on fire too. There were some gas metres only steps away from the house that could have caught on fire also.
Stewin has been a close family friend of the Paos since the Pao family were living in that house and their children were growing up.
Today Meda thanks her neighbour Kae for being there to help.
Meda still hasn't completely assessed the damages to the house, but said seeing this happen to her family’s old home is devastating.
"I love that house," she said.
Are you worried about cases of arson in Portage?
Yes, I see it is getting worse
No, I'm not worried