Glimmer of hope for woman who lost nearly everything in Brandon blaze after firefighters save Freddy the fish

After a terrifying and uncertain 24 hours, firefighters in Brandon, Man., were able to give a woman who lost almost everything a bit of hope when they found her pet fish — alive and well.

Ana Harrison had just moved into a condo at 1400 Pacific Ave. a month ago. Tuesday night, all of her belongings went up in flames when the building caught fire. 

“I was panicking because just because I had bought so much new stuff in there,” the first-year Brandon University student told CBC News. 

“I don’t know how to put that in words.… I was like, ‘no way this is happening.'”

She and her boyfriend fled from their ground-floor unit with little more than what they were wearing. Freddy, her blue-purple pet fish, was left behind. 

“We just looked up and like the whole [building] was in flames,” Harrison said. 

She returned to the building Wednesday evening to assess the damage and asked a couple of firefighters who were packing up their gear if they could do her a favour. 

“I kind of was just like, ‘Hey guys … so my fish is in there and it’s right underneath a window. Do you think you could at least check if he’s alive for me?'”

The fourth floor of the condo building on Pacific Avenue in Brandon is severely damaged. The Office of the Fire Commissioner is currently investigating the cause of the fire, while local firefighters are looking at the stability of the structure so people can retrieve their belongings. (Riley Laychuk/CBC)

‘Just chilling in a tank’

The two firefighters couldn’t tell by looking in the window of her unit, even with a flashlight, so they decided to carefully pry open her patio door.

“One guy actually went in there and grabbed [Freddy] and came out,” Harrison said. “They looked so concerned, looking at each other, and I was like, ‘Oh gosh, it’s looking like the saddest moment of my life. All this for a dead fish.’

“And then I yelled back, ‘Is he OK?’ They’re like, ‘yep,’ and they both give a thumbs up,” Harrison said.

“I started doing a little dance.” 

One of the firefighters carefully passed Freddy, still in his tank, over the fence to Harrison and her family. 

WATCH | Firefighters hand Freddy and his tank back to Ana Harrison:

Fish rescued from Brandon condo unit after fire

14 hours ago

Ana Harrison left Freddy behind when her Brandon, Man., condo building caught fire on Sept. 21. The next day, firefighters rescued him. 0:15

“I was so happy,” she said. “Like, no way this guy survived like this.… A whole apartment fire and he’s just chilling in a tank.

“I don’t know how he survived.” 

Happily swimming again 

Freddy is now back with Harrison, happily swimming again. The outside of his tank was a little wet from the sprinkler head that was right above her desk, where Freddy’s tank was located. 

“I changed his water,” she said.

“I went to Walmart after and I bought him the new thing of food. He’s just swimming around in his tank right now.” 

Brandon police said the fire was accidental in nature. Everyone that lived in the building has been accounted for and no injuries were reported.

WATCH | Devastating fire in Brandon leaves dozens homeless:

Brandon condo fire leaves residents homeless

Residents of 47-unit condo building in southwestern Manitoba are now homeless, including family who moved in a week ago. Before the building was engulfed, emergency personnel managed to get inside and knock on the doors of each suite to alert those tenants who were home to leave. 2:33