The family who lived in the light yellow house next door in the 19600-block of Wakefield Drive in Langley were good neighbours, Jessica Wenzoski recalled.
The husband and wife and their two near-adult children, a boy and a girl, were were renting the house, but they looked after it “like they owned it,” Wenzoski told the Langley Advance Times.
“They were friends,” she related.
“We talked to them all the time.”
Wenzoski does not recall any incidents involving police at the house.
“They were very nice,” she said.
She was shocked to hear that three bodies were discovered after fire ripped through the two-storey house on the weekend, and the case was under police investigation as a homicide.
On Tuesday, she considered leaving flowers as a memorial at the site, but decided it would be better to wait until the police were done.
“We’re pretty sad about it.”
Forensic investigators were still on the scene of the fire Wednesday, combing through the debris, and the street remained closed to all but local traffic.
Wenzoski, her husband Eric, and children Lana, 5, Dylan, 3 and Alyssa, 11 months, were all at home on Saturday, June 13 along with Eric’ grandmother Roberta Elder, 83, who lived in a downstairs suite, when a fire ripped through their neighbour’s home, spreading to their house.
It was late in the afternoon, around 5:30 p.m., and Jessica had just finished giving her youngest daughter a bath when she heard her husband yelling that the neighbour’s house was on fire.
“The whole sky was black because of the smoke,” she recalled.
Jessica scooped up her daughter and ran for the street – barefoot, while Eric gathered up their other two children and alerted his grandmother to evacuate.
Neighbours on the street went into their houses to get clothes for the Wenzoskis.
“I was wearing someone else’s shoes and someone else’s jacket,” Jessica recalled.
Everyone got out safe, except for the family pet, a tuxedo tabby named Memphis, who was later found unharmed by firefighters inside the house after the blaze was extinguished.
By the time the fire next door was out, it had also caused considerable damage to the Wenzoski home, severely charring the wall and the roof facing the yellow house.
That, combined with water damage from the fire hoses, will mean considerable work must be done before they can move back in.
“They’ll basically take the top off the house and rebuild it,” Jessica described.
They’ve been told it will be six to 12 months before they can move in.
Right now, they are staying with Eric’s mother in Surrey and looking for an affordable rental in Langley that can accommodate a family and a senior who needs a ground-level entrance without steps.
They have insurance, and they also have the support of their neighbours, who have chipped in to buy necessities.
One also launched a GoFundMe campaign “Helping family after house fire” to tide them over until the insurance company processes their claim.
A grateful Jessica called the support “touching.”