A man whose home burned down in the wildfires in Fort McMurray, Alta., last week is staying with family in Nova Scotia thanks to an online donation of a plane ticket but it’s what he did before leaving that is catching the most attention.
Patrick O’Connor was at a restaurant when the exodus began. He noticed a woman waiting for a cab. He said he didn’t think the cab would make it to her, so he offered her a ride home.
The journey, which should have taken about 10 minutes, ended up taking an hour and 45 minutes to complete due to traffic.
After dropping her off, he learned his home had caught fire; at that point, he left the city with many others.
His story spread on Facebook, catching the attention of Lori Timmons.
“He saved this woman and her children, a single mother. He reunited them and, to me, that’s everything,” she said.
Timmons then tracked down his daughter Juanita O’Connor, who hasn’t seen her father in four years.
Juanita surprised Patrick at the Halifax Stanfield International Airport when he arrived at about 6:15 p.m. Tuesday.
“The fire was scary, and having to hear everything from so far, it was even worse, but I’m happy he’s home,” Juanita said.
Timmons called Patrick a hero, but he chose to stay modest.
“I did nothing no more than any other good person that came from the Maritimes would do,” he said with a smile.
The main concern is for people displaced by the fires.
“There are families there that are devastated financially and emotionally. You’re going to have children that are scarred from it because they literally escaped flames on both sides of the road,” he added.