It was 1972. Auntie Syl and Uncle Erik were attending the historic fight between Muhammed Ali and George Chuvalo.The Sorensens lived on Poplynn Drive, in Lynn Valley.The original house was wood framed, painted green. It was a standard 1960’s home. The new one built in its place was wonderful.
Later that night their house caught on fire.Frances,Ricky,Tony and Kirsten were at home sleeping. Around midnight, Frances woke up smelling smoke. She quickly woke up Ricky and Tony.Earlier that day at Eastview Elementary, the Fire Chief had been around, giving a special assembly to children, telling them to crawl low to the ground where the air was still clean-in case of fire. Frances crawled around, got her two brothers and then made it to the balcony.As they walked past, they could see the red telephone (rotary style) melting.
They got to the balcony but realized they had forgotten 7 year old “Kirsten”. Somebody ran back to get her and then all four kids figured they had to “jump” off the balcony , into the hard packed snow, and then over the fence.
Frances went first and her nightgown flew up in the air. Then followed Tony. Little Kirsten (now known as Big Kirsten) refused to jump.I think Ricky threw her off and the two kids below caught her. Then Ricky jumped.They all scrambled over the fence in the backyard, now on the Viewlynn Side of the street. Almost as soon as they got over, boom!
The entire house blew up.The furnace exploded. The kids ran to a neighbours’ house.
Meanwhile, Bent Christensen called my Dad just after midnight and said “The Sorensen house is on fire”.Dad said “Well then throw a bucket of water on it!”.But Bent insisted that it was true. Dad jumped literally out of his skin: threw on clothes and tore down the road in his pickup, determined to find the kids. I mean he was really scared.
Meanwhile my Mom called me into her bed because she was so frightened.Just recently my Mom said she shouldn’t have called me in, because it likely traumatized me, but I think it was ok. I knew anyway because I’m a light sleeper and my Dad had already woke me up.
After that the Sorensen kids lived with us for over a month.Everything smelled of smoke. I remember that it was really hard on my parents having 7 kids and four adults in the house. Then the Sorensen’s went off to Denmark. I missed them.
When they returned ,Dad had found them an apartment down Mountain Highway and they stayed there for a while. It must have been very traumatic for everyone.
Here is the rebuild of the house after the insurance was paid out. It really was a wonderful house.
To this day I am terrified of fire.