‘We saw a man totally engulfed in flames’

From our October 2012 issue

By Jerry Sikorski – Wadena, Sask.

Not too long ago, I got a phone call from a medical alert service saying that Dick, another resident where I live, had fallen out of bed and couldn’t get up. So, I put my pants on and went to his room, got his walker, and helped him up. He was okay.

When I went back to my room, I recalled an incident in the mid-50s when I lived and worked in Calgary.

This young fellow, Carl Hycha, also of Wynyard, Sask., came to my place and wanted me to drop him off in Bowness. Driving along Kensington Road, we saw a man totally engulfed in flames coming out from his garage.

I made a right turn and found him lying on the ground, his fingers and face badly burned and clothes burning. I reached for the garden hose, turned on the water and put out the flames and ripped off the smoldering clothes.

A neighbour came and took him to the hospital. Apparently he was carrying a container of gas close to the hot water heater and tripped and fell. The gas caught fire and the container blew up and sprayed him with gasoline.

The ceiling of the garage and the floor joists of his house were burning so I used the hose to put out the fire. Then, I went up the steps to the house door and knocked.

His wife and two daughters came to the door. They didn’t know anything that was happening outside until I told them. What puzzled me was I had met one of the girls the evening before in southwest Calgary. I recognized her and she did me too.

There was a heading in the Calgary Herald: “Their Quick Action Saved Man’s Life”. I did not follow up what happened then. I also haven’t heard or seen Carl Hycha since I dropped him off.