His body has recovered but Nkinyan Ngoh is still on the road to recovery from the July 27 house fire that almost took his life.
On Saturday (Aug. 16) the Fanshawe College student was at a barbecue staged by the London Fire Department to help the 24-year-old recover from the injuries that saw him airlifted to Hamilton to be placed in a hyperbaric chamber.
“I’ve still got some emotional stuff to work on,” he said. “It was a pretty serious trauma.”
There to show he was “grateful” for the Middlesex-London EMS paramedics, London firefighters and ORNGE flight paramedics who saved his life, he said the attention on his since the fire should be a reflection of their hard work.
District Chief Jim Stockdale was the chief at the call that night. When crews arrived the fire had burned off the back door on the main level and was venting (feeding itself with oxygen) through that opening and two upstairs windows. Flames were consuming the eaves in the roof and were encroaching on the attic.
He said the crew from Engine 7 “softened the target,” cooling the fire down from about 1,000 degrees Farenheit at the ceilings to 300 degrees, making it safe for firefighters to enter the townhouse and pull Ngoh from a second-floor bedroom.
The rapid intervention team working from Engine 2 and led by Captain John Hassan treated Ngoh until paramedics arrived. He had been trapped by smoke after the fire started in the kitchen overnight and ripped through the structure. Two of his roommates escaped and called 911, wrongly reporting there was no one left inside, prompting the department to urge tenants to develop fire escape plans as a group.
It was very nearly London's second fatal fire.
“The fact that he’s young, strong and healthy is why he is still here,” he said. “If his health was not of calibre it is, he would not have survived.”
Ngoh got the chance to thank him by helping haze the new deputy fire chief, Gary Bridge, with virally popular ALS Ice Bucket Challenge.
Hassan smiled through the massive bucket of ice water as it cascaded off his firefighter’s helmet but Ngoh made sure his slow-pour made it down the back of Bridge’s shirt.
The fundraiser and guerilla awareness campaign for ALS societies fighting Lou Gehrig’s disease has been spreading around London and the world in the past two weeks, driving donations to the American ALS Association up four times higher than they were over the same period last year to $4 million. Celebrities including Jimmy Fallon and Justin Timberlake have also taken part, as has Toronto Mayor Rob Ford.
Minutes after the fire chief was doused, London Police Service spokesperson Const. Ken Steeves put his money where his mouth his, charging $5 per bucket for friends to soak him outside police headquarters on Dundas Street.
The bombardment started with his wife, Sissy, and ended with an extra-large bucket heaved over his head by a couple of childhood friends.
A Canada border service agent by trade, Ward 3 candidate Mohamed Salih nominated both of the first responders.