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Home destroyed in fire; Salmon Arm RCMP track footprints to unconscious man 2km away

Man witnesses believe started fire flees for two kilometres, officer performs CPR for an hour
Bonnie Thomas and her son Darcy Andrew escaped from their burning home west of Salmon Arm on Switzmalph land about 3 a.m. Saturday, Jan. 8 after someone was seen running away from the house. (Contributed)

After a Salmon Arm woman and her son managed to escape from their burning home in the early hours of Jan. 8, police tracked footprints in the fresh snow leading from the house.

A GoFundMe page set up for Bonnie Thomas, who was in her home on Second Nations Road with her son Darcy Andrew, states someone set a fire in the carport.

“Fortunately, her son Darcy was awake and, after being alerted by a neighbour, was able to wake Bonnie in time for them to escape.”

The flames were extinguished by firefighters from three fire halls by 3:20 a.m., but extensive smoke and water damage left the home uninhabitable.

Bonnie Thomas, whose home was destroyed on Jan. 8. (Contributed)
Bonnie Thomas, whose home was destroyed on Jan. 8. (Contributed)

In a news release issued by Salmon Arm RCMP Jan. 10, when police arrived an officer tracked a set of footprints, following them into the thick bush behind the residence for two kilometres. The officer located an unconscious man lying in the snow and immediately started CPR. A second officer from the Kelowna Police Dog Section made his way back down to the road to help Shuswap Search and Rescue find their way to the unconscious man.

Police said the Salmon Arm officer performed CPR for an hour until the man was taken by Search and Rescue to a waiting ambulance and then airlifted to a Kelowna area hospital.

“The quick actions of the Salmon Arm members and the help from the Kelowna Police Dog Services member, and Salmon Arm Search and Rescue, averted tragedy,” said Cpl. Luiz Sardinha of the Salmon Arm RCMP.

The suspect has been identified and, at last report, he remained in intensive care, police said.

As well as the house and most of its contents being destroyed, so was Bonnie Thomas’ car which was in the carport.

The GoFundMe page organized by Dorothy Argent, with help from Barb Brouwer, notes Bonnie will need support.

“A single mother, Bonnie is going to need a lot of help from the community to get back on her feet after this devastating event. Donations will be greatly appreciated!”

Read more: Woman and her son escape fire that destroyed their home west of Salmon Arm

Read more: Restoration proceeds at Salmon River delta
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Martha Wickett

About the Author: Martha Wickett

came to Salmon Arm in May of 2004 to work at the Observer. I was looking for a change from the hustle and bustle of the Lower Mainland, where I had spent more than a decade working in community newspapers.
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