“One thing that really bugs me is that people call me a hero but I don't think so at all. I think that any parent who loves their kids are going to do anything and everything possible to save their child's life,” said the 32-year old mother of five.
“All I keep thinking about, all day, is that we barely made it out of there and if we had been any slower or if I couldn't have found my autistic son in time, then we wouldn't have gotten out.”
Nichole was taking a shower when the fire broke out in her home Sunday morning. Three of her kids were gone and she was home with her oldest son, Xavier, 13, and her youngest, Mason, 5.
The smell of burnt plastic caught her attention and Nichole cut her shower short.
“The smoke was so harsh and thick that we couldn't escape through the front door. We were coughing so much and I was already starting to get weak and light-headed when I found my (youngest) son hiding under a blanket,” she said.
The fire started in the basement where Xavier was sleeping. The heat melted his cellphone to the table by his bed and singed the hair on the back of his head. The last one out, the floor behind Xavier caved in as he stepped into safety.
Nathan Paul Sr., originally from Eskasoni, has been a volunteer on the Wagmatcook Fire Department for nine years. He was one of the responding firefighters.
“The fire was reported at 9:15 a.m. and Baddeck detachment responded as well,” he said from outside the burned home.
Paul said when firefighters arrived, flames were already shooting out of the back of the house and there was little they could do. It took about an hour and a half to put the fire out.
Nichole and her children are now staying with her mother, Lindiia, who jumped in her car and sped to her daughter’s house when she heard about the fire.
“I passed every car on the road. I didn’t care, as long as my daughter and my grandkids are OK,” she said.
This isn’t the first house fire that has plagued Lindiia and Nichole, who is the oldest of seven. When Nichole was two, her and Lindiia escape a fire. And in 1981, Lindiia’s brother died in a house fire on the same street Nichole lived on.
“It’s kind of hard for me to be retriggered like this,” Lindiia said, standing outside her home where there are now 15 people living.
The community has moved quickly to help the family. They’ve already held a clothing drive and monetary donations can be made to Chief Norman Bernard.
Xavier, an avid hunter, fisher and athlete, was supposed to start hockey this week but won’t be able to because all of his gear has been destroyed.
Smoke inhalation hurt him the most since he was sleeping in the basement where the fire started and he was coughing a lot the following day. Otherwise, the family is unhurt physically.
The cause of the fire is still not known and an inspector was expected to do an investigation Monday.