Strangers unite to save kids, pets in South March fire

SOUTH MARCH – Two strangers worked together to save two dogs and ensure a couple of youngsters made it out of yesterday’s (Oct. 3) South March home fire unscathed.

Kilmaurs resident Denis Potvin, 33, just happened to be on Dunrobin Road at the intersection of March Road waiting for the light to change yesterday around 4:30 p.m. He was heading to the General Hospital to be introduced to his brand-new nephew.

“I was sitting at the red light and I noticed some white smoke was going by and it was getting thicker. I don’t know what made me look back, I’m on that road a lot, but the smoke was getting darker and thicker. I thought, this doesn’t look right.”

Potvin pulled over on to the shoulder, let the cars pass, crossed the road and “saw the outside wall was on fire.”

He ran back to his car, “pulled a U-turn and drove over to the house and heard screaming.”

Potvin called 911 and gave the Ottawa Fire Service directions to the blaze located at 4 Campbell Reid Court and leapt in to action. At the same time another heroic bystander did the same thing. Potvin only got his first name but says “Andrew was the real hero.”

At the time there were two young boys and two dogs at the home.

“I ushered the younger one, I think he was around 10 or 12, away from the house,” Andrew said. “The older one, I think he was 14 or 16, was inside the house trying to find the dogs. I said ‘get out of the house, we got the dog. Don’t worry about it.’”

After that, Potvin ushered one of the dogs out of the home.

“Andrew was the real hero,” Potvin said. “The older boy did not want to leave the dogs behind. Without hesitation, Andrew went right in and picked up the dog. I didn’t realize what we were up against until I was inside the house.”

Potivin said the “the smoke wasn’t billowing, it was pillowing. The television was melting right off the chimney.”

He couldn’t see anything up the stairs due to the smoke and the ceiling looked like a thick mattress of smoke covering it.

“From what I heard, the fire went from the shed to the house,” Potvin said.

He said the father and his daughter pulled in to the home shortly after he and Andrew had arrived.

“The thing that got me was someone said they thought there was natural gas at the house,” Potvin said. “I put myself in to a predicament. The fire was already two or three stories tall.”

But because of Andrew and Potvin’s fast action, they were able to save two family pets, and the boy trying to find the dogs.

“We hugged each other and we had never met each other before, and probably will never meet each other again,” Potvin said. “I wish I knew what Andrew’s last name was because he deserves the props. I did what I think anyone would do. I let the first responders know what was going on and where and then I hopped in to action.”

Potvin said he only had one thought following his incredible actions.

“It makes you appreciated the small things,” he said. “All I wanted was to see my family after that.”

He spent the rest of the evening with his mom and dad. He wasn’t able to visit his sister and 48-hour-old nephew because they were sleeping.

“I’ve had a headache for the last seven or eight hours,” Potvin said. “I stayed up all night. It messed with me. I took the day off work today.”

West Carleton Online is hoping to update this story with photos. Potvin said he would share some with us, but we have a feeling he may have fallen asleep. We’re going to let him rest – he deserves it.