NORTH SYDNEY — Dishes still on the kitchen table sit among the charred remains of a home devastated by an early morning fire Monday.
Brian and Nancy Young and their son Nick escaped the home without injury. His son Andrew, a registered nurse, was on call.
"I have MS and Andrew was able to get my medication out of the house," he said. "Some you can't get locally, and others I have to take every 12 hours."
Surrounded by family, friends and neighbours, Young looked on as firefighters made sure all the hot spots were out.
"Everybody's fine, everybody's safe — that's all that matters," he said. "I was up at around 5 a.m., fed the cat and let him out on to the back deck. At that time there was nothing."
About an hour later he went to lie down for a few minutes.
"I heard really loud snapping and cracking noises and could see flames at the back of the house."
He yelled "fire" and called 911.
"It happened so quick, the house filled with smoke. When I called 911, I could see smoke rolling along the ceiling," he said. "The fire seemed to go to the roof right away, so they had to pull down the ceilings."
Young said neighbours rallied quickly offering assistance and a place to stay.
"We haven't seen Berkley the cat, he was on the deck so hopefully he will come back."
The home was insured and was equipped with smoke alarms.
North Sydney Fire Department Chief Lloyd MacIntosh said it took about a half hour to extinguish the fire. They were assisted by Sydney Mines Volunteer Fire Department. There were 25 firefighters on scene.
"This fire started on the outside, it doesn't mean it's a suspicious fire," MacIntosh said.
The fire travelled along the outside of the roof of an older section of the house and firefighters had to cut out a section of roof to get at the fire.
"That allowed us to vent the smoke and heat out, and we could fight the fire from underneath," MacIntosh said. "It's such a tragic loss, this was a well-lived-in home with lots of pictures, mementoes and memories — their whole life was in this home."