Wednesday, December 05, 2007
I knew Ingrid. She looked after my pony Chelan until the day Chelan died very happy in her field. She was a good woman, misunderstood by many.
She and her husband chose to travel the world rather than have kids and went around it at least twice if not more. She had amazing stories to tell.
She had a huge heart and after her husband died she poured all her love into her animal friends and they returned it completely.
I am honored to have known her.
Agassiz fire claims one life
Firefighters stand among hoses near the Agassiz home destroyed Saturday.
by Lorene Keitch
A fire ripped through a Morrow Rd residence Saturday, killing an elderly woman and her dog.
Ingrid Hackel and her dog Prinsie lived in a white house with red trim on the only remaining farm land within the Agassiz town site.
Neighbours first spotted smoke around 2:30 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 1. Someone called 9-1-1, and neighbours rushed to Heckel’s house to see if she was OK. However, the intense heat drove them back out the door before they could get far.
Next-door neighbour Cheryl says she knew the situation was not good when she could see Heckel’s scooter out front as the house was burning.
“She is in her 80s, and always takes her scooter when she goes anywhere,” Cheryl said, as firefighters blanketed the scene with trucks, hoses and ladders.
At approximately 2:35 p.m., the Agassiz Fire Department was paged for a chimney fire at a single family dwelling on 7411 Morrow Rd. Fire Chief Wayne Dyer was first on scene and was notified by the neighbours the lone occupant was still inside the house.
When the first fire truck arrived shortly after, hoses were hooked up and two firefighters with self-contained breathing apparatus entered the house to search for Heckel.
“Having advanced about two meters, the firefighters had to retreat due to heavy smoke and intense heat. Visibility was zero at floor level,” states Wayne Ball, Agassiz firefighter and media liason.
Deputy Fire Chief Gerald Basten says with temperatures reaching upwards of 800 degrees, it was hot enough to start melting the plastic shields on their helmets.
“Firefighters made a valiant effort to gain access upon arrival, but were driven out by the intense heat,” Basten explains.
A call was sent out for mutual aide, with Harrison, Seabird and Popkum departments responding.
The building was ventilated to try and release some heat. Crews succeeded in gaining access to the burning building on the second attempt.
“After a flashover took place, the interior attack continued and the search party were able to locate the occupant,” Ball describes.
They removed the victim and firefighters continued to work on the scene until almost 10 p.m. that night.
Heckel’s German Shepard dog Prinsie was also found deceased in the house. Neighbours say the dog was very loyal to Heckel, and that if she was in the house, he would not have left her.
The cause of fire was undetermined as of press time.
“It’s an active investigation right now. We’re going back to the site as we speak,” Basten said in a phone interview Monday. “It’s an ongoing investigation between the Agassiz Fire Department, the Office of the Fire Commissioner and the RCMP, which would include the coroners.”
Agassiz RCMP Sgt. Mike McCarthy says fire investigations are done jointly with RCMP to ensure there is no foul play involved in a fire. However, he said Monday there was no indication of foul play at this time.
BC Ambulance Service paramedics, RCMP, Victims assistance and the Coroner and staff were all on scene Saturday.
An unexpected but much appreciated arrival on scene was local resident Rob Sciotti and his crew. Ball says Sciotti took it upon himself to feed all the emergency personnel on scene. Through his staff at the Agassiz A&W and Sam’s Place, hamburgers and endless hot coffee were supplied to help keep everybody warm.
“This was greatly appreciated. Community spirit does live on in Agassiz,” Ball exclaims.
There has been no official cause of the fire or cause of death at this time as it is still under investigation.
On-lookers gathered at the scene to watch as firefighters battled the blaze, mostly hidden from sight by a fire truck, bushes and Fire Scene tape. Several neighbours gathered on the street corner to talk about Heckel as they watched the action. Marina Striker says Heckel was a good neighbour to have.
“She believed that good fences made good neighbours,” Striker says. “She had a big heart, and was very kind.”
Over the years, Striker would sometimes find a basket of eggs from Heckel for her, hanging on a bush with a coat hanger. Another neighbour recalled when she first moved to the neighbourhood 18 years ago, Heckel welcomed her with a basket of fruit and flowers.
It was the last farm in town-proper, and she used to have goats, cows, geese and chickens there. Another past neighbour recalled watching Heckel many years ago walk her cow down the street in the evenings.