The Fire - 48 Years Ago‏

So, I've told this story hundreds of times if not thousands, even though I have no real memory of it.  Here is the story from all the collective sources. (My mom, my dad, my grandmother and a few newspaper clippings).

My mom and dad who had been together for about five years had three children.  There was my sister Kimmy (Kimberly Albina Rhyno) me (Launna Randy Rhyno) and my sister Shelly (Rochelle Lynn Rhyno).  My mother's step father had been ill in 1964 and so my dad and mom traveled to Salem, Oregon from Halifax, Nova Scotia with Kimmy, me and mom was pregnant with Shelly.

They also brought Mary (a 16 year old girl they knew from Halifax) to help out.  While we were in Oregon Shelly was born that July and by September my parents started home to Halifax, Nova Scotia.  They drove through Washington into British Columbia and ended up stopping in Kelowna BC.

They decided to rent a cabin and worked by picking fruit for money.  The morning of Monday October, 12 Thanksgiving 1964, mom and dad left for work.  It was just Mary and myself that were up, I was nearly 15 months old.

My parents had left the Coleman stove out on the table. Apparently I pulled the stove off the table which had a gas tank attached to it at the exact same time that Mary was lighting the wood stove.  Everything burst into flames and I was in the center of it all. 

Kimmy was in the bedroom off to one side and Shelly was in the back bedroom.  Mary walked through the flames to save me.  She tried to talk Kimmy into coming but she was too afraid of the fire. Mary ran to the closest neighbor with me and they drove her and me to the orchard to let my parents know and someone called the firemen.

Mary and I were rushed to the hospital, my parents got back to the cabin to find it burned to the ground.  Kimmy had died, Shelly was pronounced dead at the scene (they revived Shelly on the way to the hospital).  They had seen me and I was massively burned.

I can see why my mother had a difficult time celebrating Canadian Thanksgiving as she nearly lost her whole family that day. My mom said she remembered very little for the first couple of weeks due to shock.  She remembered Kimmy being buried in red silk, her favorite color.

My father than fell apart and my mom sent him back to Halifax to be with his parents while she looked after Shelly and drove between two hospitals daily to see Mary and me.  Then on the 10th day in, Mary died (apparently she couldn't deal with the fact that Kimmy had died).

My mother was a strong woman but this even shook her.  She said she had nearly fallen to pieces but she had to be strong for my sister and me.  I was going through numerous operations, she was told I wouldn't live, then when I lived, she was told I wouldn't have feet to walk with and I'd be lucky to have patches of hair.

I was a fighter,  I survived and beat all the odds.  It was pretty amazing to survive after 60% of my body was burned, especially in 1964.   Anyhow I'm still walking with my feet the doctors thought I would lose and I have enough hair for two people. The plastic surgeons worked miracles and made it possible for me to live a fairly normal life.

I cry when I think about what my parents had to deal with, losing Kimmy the way they did.  They never overcame the grief and although they had my sister Lisa in 1966, they separated within a couple of years.  By 1969 my mom had left and I was not to see her again until 1978 when I was 15. 

My parents tried to reconcile but it didn't work out, which I feel was horribly sad.  My mother loved my father with her whole heart and she did until the day she died. My father was never truly happy, he searched his whole life and had addictions to cover the pain he had.

That fire in October 1964 ended up destroying my family and changing us all for the rest of our lives, we still deal with the repercussions to this day.

I am, however; extremely grateful to Mary for walking through the fire to save me, I'm thankful for the firemen who saved my sister Shelly, I'm indebted to the doctors who worked miracles on me.

There are blessings even in difficult times.

"Everything you want, also wants you" ~ Jack Canfield


  1. i also been exp. in this situation. at 2am..our kitchen suddenly burnt and lucky we woke up and my dad rush to flush water into the fire. Luckily we are safe..:)thank God.

  2. WOW, Wawakyoko that would be scary, especially if you were older and remembered it. Of course I have no memory of it because of my age but I live with aftermath everyday.

  3. Launna, I'm so sorry to hear about this tragedy for you and your family from your past. Yes, I'm sure you would take the effects of that with you for the rest of your life. So sad.

  4. Thank you Daisy, I am really grateful to everyone who saved me that day, Mary, the firemen, the doctors. I was very blessed!

  5. Oh what terrible story! it must be very hard to lose a sister, the damage, hospitals, the separation of your parents... But you were strong and could go on and now you have your own pretty family. Thanks for sharing the story of your life. an strong embrace!

  6. Wow Launa what a terrible tragedy, I am so sorry for your sister and for Mary. Your poor parents....I am truly sorry for their deep sorrow. But somehow I understand why you are such a strong walked through fire :). Kisses Launa.

  7. Yes Armando, it was a terrible tragedy, you are right though, I do have a pretty family! Thank you for the hug:)

  8. Thank you Petronela, I lost a lot that day but you are right... I am strong, it hasn't been easy.

  9. This made me cry and I've known this story since I was a little girl :( Love you, mommy!

  10. You are amazingly strong! Your post certainly makes me realize my problems have been very small.

    1. Thank you Kc... we all have our stories ;-)

    2. Just over a year later and I came back to read this again. I still think you have amazing strength and this is probably why. We do all have our stories...

  11. My loving sister...this is the most wonderful rendition of the story of the horrible fire nearly 50 years ago... You brought healing tears to my eyes...I love you dearly and I have tremendous respect for you!

  12. Wow what a story. I am sorry for all of your loses even though you don't remember this happening you've lived with it through the memory of others. God Bless your sister Mary that you are here to tell the story.

  13. Sending you a big hug! I cannot even imagine what you and your family had to go through. Accidents can happen so quickly and unexpectedly. I am so glad Mary saved you and the firemen were able to save one of your sisters. It sounds like you received excellent medical care- thank goodness. You are such a strong person and thank you for sharing your story with us. So important to look at the blessings even in the difficult times. Hugs.

  14. Oh wow... I just read your about page... what a devastating story. I teared up while reading. You've been through so much... and I cannot believe how you beat the odds and survived. And you only know of those circumstances through storytelling and not memory. Even more incredible... just wow.

    All the Cute 🎀

  15. I just followed your links to this post and I am greatful I did. Your story is worth reading. Thanks for sharing it with us all. It reminded me of how precious life is.

    Much Love,

  16. I didn't know this story, Launna. :( How touching that you shared it. It's a very powerful piece to read.

  17. Omg Launna this is a so so terrible tragedy that your parents had to live, you were just little and your parents were young and had to suffer so much, I am so sorry for the lost of your baby sister and Mary. This was very horrible and IM amazed how well you did as you do not look burnt at all
    Lots of hugs xoxox

  18. Launna, I don't even know where to begin. I found this post from your other one I just saw. It gave me chills and goosebumps reading that. I'm so sorry this happened to you and your family. It's devastating. You truly are so lucky and blessed, everything you have been through in your life, you are such a fighter. So much love xx.

    Raindrops of Sapphire

  19. It's not how many times we fall, but it's how many times we rise that makes us stronger. For you to recount this story takes a lot of strength and courage. Sorry to hear about your loss.


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