Two Things

 I found out last night that the man who died because of injuries sustained in the fire, my next door neighbour Gregory Alan Fenton, was discovered in my apartment – unit 303. I am in shock. I now understand why the police were so eager to speak with us first.

I am told that Greg lived in the building for almost 20 years. No one I have spoken to remembers interacting with him, and I had never met the man. I had never even seen the man. The police believe that he must have seen me, though, and known that I have small children and was often alone overnight. They suspect that he was making sure that I had got the children out, and was overcome by the smoke. He died in the hospital on Friday December the 4th and was laid to rest this Saturday. He was 54.

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I left the apartment 20 to 30 seconds after the first alarm sounded. The hallway was already so thick with smoke I mistakenly believed that the power had been cut. Mr. Fenton walked through this, towards the fire to reach my unit. We were directly beside the stairwell which was where the fire was set, gas trailed up and down each of the 4 flights of stairs while so many in the building still slept. I was awake when the alarm went off, but it was so quiet. Too quiet. We learned later that there was no alarm on our floor, and no fire extinguishers. Our fire door was also broken, unable to close.

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Sunday at 7:30am I had already been up for hours with morning sickness. I was miserable at the time, but now I consider myself extremely lucky. There was most likely a minute between when we left and when Mr Fenton entered our suite. I am certain that if I had been sleeping we would have died with our would be saviour. It hurts to think of him lying in our home, alone. I feel so guilty and humbled. Whatever reason he was there, I wish it was not the first time. I wish I had introduced myself when I moved in. I wish I had been a neighbour to him, or maybe a friend. I am so incredibly sorry.

We left so quickly no one was wearing shoes. We had no wallets, phones, ID, or money. My laptop sat in the middle of my bed, forgotten. Standing on the sidewalk barefoot, holding my daughter and watching my building burn, I had only two things to my name – the only two things that matter. Mr. Fenton knew that. I have his picture, and when my children are older I will tell them about their quiet neighbour and how he watched out for them.

It is the very least that I can do.

Gregory Alan Fenton

 

 

9 thoughts on “Two Things

  • December 15, 2015 at 7:59 am
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    Oh that breaks my heart. I am so sorry for your pain and the way you had to meet your neighbor. It is angering to know that someone could do such a thing to a building full of people and then boast about it. I cried wehn i read this. I am so glad you and your babies are alive. God bless this man for sacrificing his own life to end up saving my friends life. I really believe there are such things as angels. Mr.Fenton was yours watching over you and your babies. God bless you and the your family.

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    • December 15, 2015 at 9:11 am
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      Thank you Crystal. It is just so unbelievable. I feel so lucky but so, so sad.

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  • December 15, 2015 at 2:56 pm
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    I am Greg’s sister, thank you for your kind words. We are heartbroken but take comfort that he was looking out for you and your children. Can you email me privately please?

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    • December 17, 2015 at 1:15 am
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      Thank you for reaching out. Your family should be very proud to count a man like Mr. Fenton amongst its ranks.

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  • December 15, 2015 at 4:22 pm
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    This is at once deeply touching & absolutely Cray. The guy died trying to save the woman & her kids next door. This good man was Struck that night, & soon after he Fell. He didn’t think about himself, even in his Mortal Peril. That’s a Man. Doing Right. I have no words other than these.

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  • December 15, 2015 at 7:35 pm
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    Thank you for writing this. Greg was my cousin. We spent a lot of time with all our cousins while growing up but then time, commitments, work and just life sails by and but for the odd wedding or funeral, it’s been over 20 years since we’ve seen each other. I too wish I had known him more. You gave me a glimpse into his final moments, and you saw the heart of a man I knew as a child. I am saddened by his death, but proud his last choices were to care and protect. Go in peace Greg. And may we choose as wisely.

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    • December 17, 2015 at 1:13 am
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      I am still trying to unpack this. After speaking with a few people that knew him, it sounds like he was in fact trying to make sure we were ok – I felt like this had to be the case because of the fact that we were told my people who exited directly after us that the door next to our place was on fire already less than a minute after we left. He would have walked towards the burning door. It gives me pause. I never even knew that this calibre of human being was on my floor and now he is gone and I am in mourning for a man I didn’t even know. My heart breaks for your family. =(

      Reply

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