May 30, 2023


Firefighters rescued a man and his cat from an east Vancouver apartment fire Tuesday after the man’s neighbor heard the fire alarm and called for help.

The fire sparked in the kitchen of the man’s second-story unit at Park Crest Commons, 14913 S.E. Mill Plain Blvd. in the Cascade Highlands neighborhood.

Julie Husko, 52, who lives in a nearby unit, called 911 at 3:44 p.m. She was returning from walking her dog when she heard a fire alarm.

After putting her dog inside her apartment, she came back out to find her neighbor standing at his open second-story bedroom window, holding his cat. Smoke was coming out of the back of the unit, and the man wasn’t able to open his bedroom door.

“I was about ready to go in and get him out,” Husko said.

After reporting the fire, she checked the man’s front door and didn’t feel any heat or see any smoke from underneath the door. Husko noted that the complex’s main entries are well-sealed and made of metal.

As dark smoke billowed around the man’s face, she said, she had him crouch down to avoid some of the smoke. She asked him if he could stuff a T-shirt or blanket underneath his bedroom door, but he wasn’t able to. Neighbors described the man as elderly and as having limited mobility; they said they were surprised and relieved that he was able to open the window.

Arriving firefighters told the man to let go of his cat while they took him down a ladder propped against the apartment building. He was taken by ambulance to a hospital and treated for smoke inhalation, said Vancouver Fire Department Battalion Chief Drew Tracy. After that, firefighters quickly extinguished the fire.

Firefighters later found the cat under the bed. Although scared, the cat appeared unharmed. Husko said she would care for it until her neighbor returned home, even transporting it in her own pet carrier.

“I’m just thankful I was out here,” Husko said. “It was all good teamwork.”

The Vancouver Fire Marshal’s Office is investigating the cause of the fire.

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