Lladones family looking ahead after fire

July 2, 2024, 8:50 am
Ashley Bochek and Kevin Weedmark

The Lladones family lost both their home and their business in a fire on June 21.

Rommel Lladones, owner of Moosomin Pizza and Chinese, says his family are all okay and are beyond thankful for the help they received when their home and business caught fire on June 21.

Rommel says he is still in shock from the tragic fire that day. “It still doesn’t feel real. We are still in shock, but we are looking to get some support from counselling. We’re coping, I guess. Right now we’re trying to look on the brighter side of what’s happened to my family.”

Rommel says town workers were outside the building early Friday morning and helped the family.

“It was between 7:45-8 am when my sister woke me up and said, ‘There’s lots of smoke coming from downstairs.’ I was still sleeping so I woke up and saw that there was a big cloud of smoke coming up from downstairs. The instinct that I had was to grab my phone and call 911 and then gather all of the kids up. Luckily we were all upstairs at that time. So I grabbed the kids but because I was in such a hurry, I wasn’t able to dial 911. There was a lot of smoke going up and I could feel my throat was starting to feel bad. We have a deck in the back of our place so we tried to open it but, I had put a lock on it because I had been fixing the railings and took them off so I had put a lock on it so the kids couldn’t go out. During that day, I was struggling with it, pulling it back and forth. We managed to open it just enough that we could get out. There was already a town worker that was downstairs. (Quinn Glasser and Mike Lowe were driving by when they saw the family on the balcony, and ran to the nearby carwash to get a ladder).

“Then the next thing I know, my sister tells me that my daughter was still in her room. I had to grab her. It was my fatherly instinct. I had to go get her but I couldn’t see anything inside. It was too dark—I couldn’t see anything. Luckily when I opened the door I saw that my sister had opened the window of my daughter’s room for fresh air the night before, so I could see a small glimpse of light and my daughter was standing behind the door and she yelled, ‘Daddy, daddy!’

“That is really haunting me right now—the question of ‘What if?’ I can’t imagine if I wasn’t able to get my daughter out. I grabbed her but I couldn’t see anything so what I did was guide myself along the wall with my hand. Even the deck outside and the door, I couldn’t see it. In those few moments I couldn’t even hear my daughter breathing because she was coughing and couldn’t breathe. We managed to get out and there were people helping us get out. The guy that was helping us had a ladder but it was a little short so it wasn’t able to reach the deck.

“There were a lot of people who instantly, didn’t hesitate to help, so we managed to get down. There was a guy who came yesterday to our hotel. He’s not from here, he said that he was just passing through, but he saw the smoke and stopped by. That guy brought my sister and kids inside the gym next to us. Then a lot of people helped us get them to the hospital.”

Family hospitalized
The family members were taken to different hospitals for treatment.

“When I went to the hospital here in town, the doctors decided it would be better for me to go the city because of how much carbon monoxide I had breathed in because of the smoke,” says Rommel. “They said it would be safer if I was in the city. They took me to Yorkton ICU but my son went to Regina because he also had a high level of carbon monoxide. Luckily my sister and my daughter didn’t have to stay overnight at the hospital in town—just for a few hours. I stayed in Yorkton for a day because they had to observe me, but luckily all of the blood tests, the x-ray, and other tests that they did were okay. They wanted me to stay for two days but I said, ‘No, I have to see my family.’ So they let me go on Saturday afternoon and Mrs. Flaman from Wapella, who’s also a teacher here at the school, offered to drive me back to town. She is one of my son’s teachers. She was so helpful, and she drove my kids and my sister to the hospital in town that day.

“We’re just happy and fortunate that in a small town, a lot of people are willing to help, especially the teachers.”

He said he was in shock and couldn’t process what was happening at the time of the fire.

“I couldn’t even recognize anyone. When Mrs. Flaman talked to me, I was looking at her but I wasn’t able to recognize her. She asked, ‘Do you want me to take you to the hospital?’ but I just looked at her and realized I couldn’t recognize her. I asked her, ‘Who are you?’ Then she asked, ‘Can I take your kids to the hospital?’ I said yes. She took my kids to the hospital, her and—Mrs. Taylor and Mrs. McCormac, they all took them to the hospital and gave us comfort.”

Thankful family got out safely
Rommel says he is thankful his family got out safely and are well. “I have my son Juan Fausto and my daughter Marciana, she’s four and my oldest is seven. During this, luckily, my wife was not in the house because she was working at Canalta. She went to work at 4 am. When we got out I called her, she was crying. She was so shocked. My sister is here visiting us right now. We’re just lucky that we also had my sister while that happened because she’s really been a big help.”

Rommel said he had to go back into the burning building to rescue his daughter.

“It was the fatherly instinct,” he said. “I knew it was dangerous but if my daughter had died, I would be dead. The picture of that in my mind, even today, I’m not able sleep. When I close my eyes I can still see the smoke. There’s a lot of things on my mind like, ‘What’s going to happen to your family?’ The place doesn’t really matter, it’s family that matters.

“We’re just lucky the fire department came so fast—as fast as they could. The dining area is where it’s badly damaged. In the kitchen all of the equipment is still in good shape but we need to get professional people to look at it. We’re just lucky I think and hopefully we can rebuild the place.”

Proud to be part of Filipino community
Rommel says he is thankful for the support of the local Filipino community.

“We’re just so thankful that we have a Filipino community in town that are also willing to help. All of this help will give us a little bit of comfort and assurance that everything will be okay. It makes me proud to be a Filipino and part of the Filipino community.

“The Filipino community mentioned a lunch and I said that anything that would help, I’d appreciate it. That will help us get back on our feet. So maybe that’s the beauty of it. Giving back whatever you have to for someone in need. Right now, we’re just putting together plans that would be the best for us. If we can’t rebuild as soon as people we’ll probably look for housing in town if they have a unit available for us—which they said they had.

“That business is our bread and butter, so we can’t give up on it. My wife told me that maybe there’s another opportunity behind this thing and we have to come back stronger.”

Stronger than ever
Rommel says he is looking forward to getting the family back on their feet.

“That’s the motivation that we have—to get back on our feet stronger than before. I’m from the Philippines and there’s a lot of struggle in life back in the Philippines, so I’m used to it.

“We came here in 2010 and since then I’ve tried to survive and I think we can survive this. We have a lot of friends, we have a Filipino community to help us and family back in the Philippines.

“We’re very fortunate that we have this community in town, and not just the Filipino community, but other people as well. The school teachers are organizing a fundraising activity, as well, to help. A lot of people are reaching out to us to give whatever they can. We have a lot of clothes right now.

The Moosomin Fire Department responded quickly to the fire at the Llandones home and business on June 21.<br />


Amazing feeling seeing support
Rommel says he is surprised to see the support from all over.
“That’s the consolation because of what happened—knowing that some of these people that I don’t even know personally, but they’re willing to lend a hand a little bit with whatever they can. People are messaging and some stop by at the hotel to say, ‘How are you guys doing? Are you guys okay?’

“I’m really, really glad that a lot of people are helping—actually there’s still a lot of clothes in the lobby area of the hotel and I don’t know where to put all of it. We have a lot of food. Every single day we have Filipinos bring us food. That’s a relief right now, there’s a lot of people that are helping us right now.

“I saw Mike and he works at the town. He’s the one that called 911. He stopped by today and talked to us and asked, ‘Hey, are you guys okay?’ So I spoke to him and I shook his hand and told him how grateful we are that they were there when we needed help. I’m so thankful to those people who helped that day—Mrs. Flaman as well as all of the teachers at MacLeod Elementary School and McNaughton.

“We also have friends that are part of the Filipino community in Toronto and some from Vancouver who are reaching out. We’re fortunate and we’re happy and we’re lucky. Some of my customers called me yesterday. I think they don’t know what happened because they’re asking for takeout and I said, ‘No, I can’t right now. Our place caught on fire.’

Future plans
Rommel is moving on from the fire and looking to the future.

“One of my plans is to get a small food truck, just to help us a little bit, start getting back on our feet. Like I said, it’s the better part of what’s happened to us—it’s seeing how many people are willing to help.

“We were so fortunate to have the chance to come here to Canada. This place changed our lives and I’ve worked hard since 2010—I’ve worked hard to get what we have now and then what happened is really breaking my heart. We’re going to get back on our feet and be even stronger. That’s my motivator right now, and of course my family and my kids.

“Unfortunately my insurance wasn’t renewed and sadly we don’t have it insured. So that’s something as well that’s pressuring us—how are we going to rebuild the place?

“All of my papers—my passport, my kids’ passports, other legal papers that I have for my restaurant are all gone and burnt.”

Learning from the experience
Rommel said he has learned his family’s safety is the most important thing.

“Whatever you have in your life, whatever you possess, it could be gone instantly. Whatever you possess can be gone just like that—for us, in 30 minutes it was gone. I think right now the lesson is that you have to love your family every day because when my daughter was in that situation and what if I wasn’t able to save her and she was gone? Then what’s the purpose of my life here. I can rebuild my building, but my kids I can’t and it’s for them that I’m working.

“I have to invest more on the spiritual things, I think, more on valuing my spiritual life than on material things.”
“I worked more than eight hours a day—woke up sometimes at 8 and I’d go to sleep sometimes around 2 am. So sometimes I’d forget to reflect and think that in my life I have to value my spiritual life. The lesson I got was whatever material things that I worked for, for so long, it doesn’t matter.”

“I think that the thing is acceptance right now. Accept whatever I have and whatever happens in my life and accept that maybe this is just a process to thinking more on the brighter side of what happened. It’s something that I have to reflect on and I have to think of what is the most important thing—the material things that I have or the family that I’m working for? Possessions are important but if something happens and your possessions are gone, it’s gone, but your family and your life are the most important thing. I’m just going to continue working for my family. Those things that I’ve been working for since 2010 and whatever I have, it’s not important as long as my family is well.”