Single mother spends Mother’s Day fighting flames

Mother's Day fire

Karen Moraes says she’ll never forget Mother’s Day of 2023 – when a fire outside her house in Langley, B.C., forced her to flee with her four children who were with her.

“My daughter ran out of her room ran down the hallway and banged on my door and said ‘Our house is on fire,’” she says. “I got out of bed, ran downstairs and told the kids to call 911. I opened the back door and saw the gazebo where the hot tub was in flames.

“By the time my daughter Madison woke up she thought it was hail and it was actually the flames hitting her window.”

Her daughter’s bedroom is in the rear of the house. She said she noticed an orange glow through the blinds.

Mother's Day fire
Moraes’ home was lost along with three others. Photo: Tina House/APTN.

Moraes, from Lax Kwalaams First Nation and Metlakatla, Alaska, says she tried to use a fire extinguisher but within minutes the fire spread quickly. The single mother told her four children to grab their pets and get out.

The fire consumed their house – and three others.

In total, 11 people made it to safety – but lost everything inside their homes.

“We just have the clothes on our backs,” she says. “I was in pajamas. I was just getting ready for bed so I’m wearing donated clothes someone dropped off at our door in our hotel I’m still in the slippers that I ran out of the house with.”

Moraes says the family has been through a lot since November including a divorce.

“There is nothing salvageable in my bedroom or my closets or anything else,” she says.

Mother's Day fire
Karen Moraes outside her home in Langley, B.C. Photo: Tina House/APTN.


But not all was lost. As she was speaking to APTN News, a fire investigator was able to salvage the family’s identification.

For now, the family is staying in a hotel. Their next move isn’t clear. They were renting the home and didn’t have tenant’s insurance.

The cause of the fire is still under investigation.

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