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Prince Rupert hero couple saves chickens and vehicles from fire

The couple moved cars and released birds from burning coop
Prince Rupert couple stopped to help when they saw a chicken coop on fire east of Topley June 6, 2021.

A Prince Rupert couple were the heroes of the night saving a stranger’s chickens and property from a nighttime fire near Topley on June 6.

Homeowner Kyla Neville said she and her husband were woken up by their dogs barking around 10:15 p.m.

When she looked outside, she saw two strangers trying to get into their gate. Thinking they were suspicious, she stepped out to investigate. it took only a second to realize her chicken shed was engulfed in flames.

The unknown male and female had already called 9-1-1.

They would later be identified as Prince Rupert residents John Auriat and Danel Mckay.

Once he was aware of what was happening, Kyla’s husband Jim jumped into action, hosing down the flames. It was short-lived because when Kyla cut the power the water turned off too.

Auriat asked the Nevilles for clippers and keys to their cars. He cut part of the wire fence to allow some of the fowl to escape and moved their vehicles away from the fire.

When the fire department arrived, they put out the fire.

By the time the dust had settled, and Kyla went to thank the anonymous heroes, she couldn’t find them.

Through a Facebook post, she eventually made contact.

Auriat and Mckay had seen the fire from Highway 16 while they were driving home from Vanderhoof.

Mckay told Kyla they didn’t wait around after the fire because their 10-month old, who had been sleeping in the truck during the commotion, was woken up by the fire trucks.

“If they hadn’t stopped, this could have been so much worse,” Kyla said.

“That shed is only 300 feet from our house, and we live in a hay field. So if it had been windy, if it had been dry… it would have been really bad.”

The Neville’s lost 48 chicks and all of their equipment and tools in the fire.

Still, Auriat and Mckay’s quick response saved more than 35 older laying hens, two turkeys and potentially the Neville’s lives.

“We could have been sleeping, and it could have been at the door. And that’s why it was so important that I find them and properly thank them,” Kyla said.

The Nevilles have plans to meet with Auriat and Mckay to show their gratitude in person.

“What struck me the most was they didn’t ask for anything. That’s so rare,” Kyla said.

There hasn’t been an official investigation into the fire, but Kyla believes an electrical malfunction caused it.

 Kaitlyn Bailey | Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
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