(by Amy Reid, Surrey NOW)
The Surrey fire department has confirmed an unattended candle was the cause of a house fire that took the life of a Fraser Heights woman.
Firefighters rescued the 59-year-old woman from a house in the 10500-block of Arbutus Wynd around 10 p.m. Sunday, but she ran back into her burning home to try to save her three pet cats.
She was rushed to Royal Columbian Hospital in critical condition and later died.
Dr. Joti Samra, a registered psychologist and Simon Fraser University professor who serves as an expert in an Animal Planet docu-reality series, said research shows that individuals can develop very strong bonds with animals.
“Sometimes those bonds can be just as strong as they are with other humans,” Samra said.
“For many people it may be one of the biggest social interactions and connections they have,” she said, adding that for people who are extremely isolated, it could be the only means of social interaction they have.
“We know a small percentage of the population may have what could be an attachment to an animal so strong it interferes with their functioning. It can be unhealthy,” she said.
Samra said such bonds can go beyond simply interfering with day-to-day life.
“It can get to the point that individuals are so connected to the animals that they risk their own life.”
But Samra said that connections so strong are not common.
In the case of the Fraser Heights woman who lost her life in attempts to save her cats, she said the bond was likely strong.
“It could be she was really, really connected to the animals. They are living breathing creatures, just like humans,” she said.
Deputy Fire Chief Karen Fry said Wednesday the cause of the fire was an unattended candle.
“It’s very tragic,” Fry said.
In the case of house fires – or any fire – Fry said, “It’s important that once you’re out, stay out.”
The woman’s 61-year-old husband made it out of the house but suffered minor burns.
The woman’s name has not been released.
With files from Tom Zytaruk © Copyright (c) Surrey Now