Military family loses everything in fire

burned down home

The charred shell is all that remains of the Goulding family’s home.

In the early hours of June 20, Wendy Goulding woke to the smell of smoke.

She quickly nudged her husband awake, and together they were able to save the lives of their two children and her parents before the entire house in Langford was consumed in flames.

“We looked in the backyard and all we could see was red,” says CPO1 Dexter Goulding, Fleet Combat Systems Engineering Chief at CFB Esquimalt. “I ran out back to the garden hose to see if I could keep the fire down at all, but it was completely out of control by then.”

Goulding and his wife got son Jefferey, 19, and daughter Taylor, 10, out of the house along with Wendy’s parents May and John, who were living in their downstairs suite.

As the house glowed red with flames licking out the windows, all the family could do was watch and wait for help.

“The fire department told us the first truck arrived nine minutes after the 911 call was placed, and the second came 10 minutes after,” says CPO1 Goulding. “If that’s true it was the longest nine minutes of my life.”

The intensity and speed of the fire meant the Goudings could not retrieve anything from the house.

Lost forever are the in-laws’ motor home, boat, computer that held all their electronic photos and important documents, photo albums, furniture, clothing, and even Wendy’s wedding band and engagement ring.

“You can’t replace that stuff,” says CPO1 Goulding. “All you can do is accept that it’s gone and move on.”

As the loss sinks in and the family begins to map out their future, they’re staying at the Westin Hotel on Bear Mountain. The provincial government covered the cost of the first three nights, but the Gouldings are now paying out of their insurance claim.  

Friends and work colleagues were quick to aid the family by setting up an account with Island Savings Credit Union. Anyone interested in donating should quote the “Goulding Family Account.”

“The help and care that has been shown to us has been, frankly, overwhelming,” says CPO1 Goulding. “Wendy and I both work and will eventually be able to replace everything we lost. We’re incredibly thankful for everyone’s concern.”

Even with the loss of everything they own, Chief Goulding’s attitude remains positive.

“Sure, there are some things that we’ll miss, but they’re all just objects,” he says. “Nothing in that house means more to me than seeing my family safe.”

-Shawn O’Hara, Staff Writer

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