A group of four comedians including Prince Albert’s Kelly Taylor are receiving praise for saving a hotel and its guests from an early morning electrical fire.
Taylor, along with fellow comedians Dylan Williamson Dustin Williamson and Ben Bauce were heading back from a show in Stenon, Sask., and were passing through Wadena at about 1 a.m. Saturday morning.
Taylor said he was dozing in the back of the vehicle.
“It was a classic Saskatchewan highway, really dark and nothing really going on,” Taylor said.
As they were driving by, they noticed what appeared to be a house was on fire.
“One guy goes ‘let’s look for a place to turn around,’” Taylor recounted.
“We’re like ‘hey, no, pull a (u-turn) right now, let’s get there.’ So we hit the breaks, pull a u-turn and – it’s not like watching a fire in your fire pit camping where it has nowhere to go. That fire, when we turned around we could see it burning.”
Taylor said he had one thought.
“Holy moly, this thing is moving fast.”
The group of comics pulled up to the property, the Blue Willow Inn, and started banging on the windows to alert guests to the fire.
One of them went to get the manager, Martin Cho.
Cho said he wasn’t sleeping. Instead, he was in his room. He didn’t hear or smell anything. But when he walked out to get something, he saw the yellow glow of a fire.
As the fire burned, Taylor took a quick 10-second video. The plan was to then go in and bang on doors to make sure people got out.
“This was at the point that I thought ‘Holy man, this place is going to be gone,’” Taylor said.
Then, Ben Bauce emerged with a fire extinguisher and began attacking the flames.
Taylor said the fire, at that point, was just seconds away from spreading to the roof and beginning to take down the entire building.
Bauce managed to get the fire down, but he knew it wouldn’t stay down for long.
“He said it as going to start back up. Sure enough, a few seconds later it flared back up,” Taylor said.
“We started running into this place and getting water wherever we could.it was almost like an old cartoon scene, with garbage cans of water.”
Taylor said he emptied an old 2-4 of water into a garbage can. The water pressure was poor and the garbage cans leaky, but the crew kept the fire down with their makeshift bucket brigade.
“We made a non-stop train of guys running back and forth and throwing water on it,” Taylor said.
Eventually, the fire department arrived and put the flames out.
Taylor said that if they had been by a few minutes earlier, they would have missed the fire. A few minutes later, it would have been too late.
“We were pretty sure that place was gone,” he said. “It goes so fast. It was all just absolutely perfect timing. It was incredible timing.”
“We were pumped on adrenaline. It felt so good that we caught it on time and we were so pumped.”
Taylor said, at one point, there was melting siding coming down. He remembers yelling “let’s get into this place, let’s go.”
The Wadena Volunteer Fire Department praised the comedians on social media.
“Passing motorists saw the flames and took it upon themselves to step up and help,” the fire department wrote.
“They alerted the owner and pounded on doors getting guests up and warned about the danger. They formed a bucket brigade and held the fire in check until fire personnel arrived. They should be applauded for saving lives and limiting damage to the building.
“Strangers helping strangers in need. The ‘Saskatchewan Way.’”
Cho also said he’s grateful for the comedians’ help.
“Definitely (thankful), yes,” he said.
By Monday afternoon, Taylor had done six media interviews and had been contacted by the Canadian Humane Association, which recognizes deserving Canadians for acts of bravery.
But Taylor doesn’t think he and his friends did anything out of the ordinary.
“The extent people are talking about it now, I never thought about that,” he said.
“Anyone would have turned around and did what we did.”