Fire victim Donna Vallee recounted her tragic story in her bed at Surrey Memorial Hospital, where she has been since Monday. (Photo: Amy Reid)

GoFundMe launched for woman who lost home and three dogs in Surrey fire

Donna Vallee, 70, among nine left homeless after fire on Monday

SURREY — Losing all your worldly belongings in a house fire is tragic enough, but Surrey resident Donna Vallee also lost three of her four dogs.

Sitting in her hospital bed last Friday, Vallee struggled to fight back tears.

“I just can’t stop crying,” said a grief-stricken Vallee.

Vallee said an ambulance attendant told her the dogs “burned up.”

“All that was on the beds was bones. That’s all there was.”

In the wee morning hours of Aug. 7, Vallee and eight other residents of a Surrey fourplex, near 103rd Avenue and 128th Street, awoke to find their home on fire. Twenty-three firefighters fought the two-alarm fire, but the home was destroyed.

The human residents all escaped, but three of Vallee’s dogs did not.

“Something was really, really wrong here,” she said. “If somebody started it, they need to be locked up.”

Vallee tearfully recounted the fateful morning.

“I had a hard time getting down the stairs and it was just orange. The flames were right in the living room,” she said. “There was a lot of smoke. Oh my god, there was a lot of smoke.”

Vallee, who uses a walker, made it down her staircase with one of her four poodle-maltese dogs.

Outside, after realizing three of her dogs were still inside, she went back inside in an attempt to rescue the remaining dogs.

Vallee said she couldn’t find them.

“I called them but they were probably passed out at that time. Just breathing that stuff, I’ll tell you, that inhalation is a killer.”

When she returned outside, she collapsed on the grass, and her memory is blurry after that. She was taken to Surrey Memorial Hospital, where she has remained.

Her sister, Cathy Cook, said the firemen told her to give Vallee heck for going back inside.

“They said if she had been in there 30 more seconds she would’ve died,” Cook said. “She already has emphysema.”

Vallee nodded.

“That’s why I’m in here,” she said of her smoke inhalation. “They had me on medication for quite some time, and oxygen. I’m coughing smoke up, and cinder. I even coughed a chunk of cinder up.”

photo

Vallee is distraught after the loss.

“They were all girls,” Vallee said of her dogs, her voice breaking. “They all had the same parents.”

Two of the dogs who perished, Onyx and Princess, were 11. Missy, who is from the same litter as the surviving dog Precious, also died.

“I sure miss those guys. They gave me a lot of good years anyway. I pulled them out (during birth),” she added. “I cry at the drop of a hat. Dogs are like family. I was so close to my dogs. I didn’t have any friends, my dogs were my friends because my friends screwed me up so bad.”

In addition to grieving her animals, Vallee is left to worry about where she will live and how she will replace her belongings that were lost in the fire.

“I have nothing. Absolutely nothing. Every bloody thing I owned is gone,” she said. “This hospital has been very good to me. They’ve let me stay here. I’m going to have to go pretty soon.”

As of Monday morning, Vallee still didn’t have a place to live.

The sisters were going to look at a temporary suite, offered through Facebook, later in the day.

“I can’t believe this is actually happening,” said Vallee.

On Thursday (Aug. 10), Cook started a GoFundMe campaign for her sister.

The initial goal was $1,000, but as of Monday morning the fundraising page had surpassed $2,000. Cook estimates her sister will need about $5,000 in all.

Cook hopes people can donate clothes, size 10 to 12, or second-hand furniture, household items, non-perishable items and dog food.

Vallee’s downstairs neighbour Esther Walls, who is caring for the surviving dog Precious for Vallee until she’s able to, urged the public to donate.

“My family did a GoFundMe account for me and I have had an amazing response, but Donna has nothing,” Walls said. “I am fortunate, in the industry I work in, (people) have given to me, including co-workers and extended family, but Donna most likely will not have that kind of support, so could do with assistance from the public.”

To donate, or get in touch with Vallee’s family, visit the donation page at gofundme.com/donnas-starting-over-fund.

amy.reid@surreynowleader.com

 

Fire victim Donna Vallee recounted her tragic story in her bed at Surrey Memorial Hospital, where she is staying until she can find a place to go. (Photo: Amy Reid)

Just Posted

Wet your whistle at the Fraser Valley Distillery Festival

Chilliwack Academy of Music’s annual event is back at the Chilliwack Cultural Centre

UFV Cascades baseball coach joins Los Angeles Dodger organization

Former Chicago Cub farmhand Wes Darvill is back in affiliated baseball.

Chilliwack teachers vote for non-confidence in school board

Lack of action following trustee’s comments has created unsafe workplace, they claim

Handful of Chilliwack water main breaks reported this winter

None were catastrophic but it meant crews had to dig down and clamp the problem pipe

Heritage Chilliwack launches new grant for heritage home owners

The grant of up to $500 is for Chilliwack home owners applying for heritage designation

B.C. cougar kitten rescued after mother struck by vehicle

Conservation Officers find home for young kitten found dehydrated and frostbitten near Williams Lake

Input sought for major road works for Maple Ridge

Consultation on Haney Bypass upgrades

Pitt councillors don’t support CP Rail underpass

Gateway projects will need city support says MP Ruimy

Suspected Toronto serial killer targeting gay community arrested

A 66-year-old man is charged with first-degree murder in disappearance of two Toronto men

Carpet bowlers have been excluded from BC 55+ Games and Canada 55+ Games

Gold medal carpet bowling winners not able to defend their titles in 2018

No crackdown, just education as BC Ferries’ enacts smoking ban

Fines and extra patrols not happening at this time as ban begins Monday

UPDATE: Police release new footage, launch website in hunt for 13-year-old’s killer

IHIT say no one has been arrested or charged in connection with Marrisa Shen’s death

Rural B.C. students score visit with Canadiens netminder Carey Price

Two students from the Chilcotin can hardly wait to meet hometown hero Carey Price in Montreal.

VIDEO: Elk parade on Vancouver Island is awesome sight

They’re out in force for a morning stroll. Check out some of Youbou’s famous elk.

Most Read