Friends identify Judith Rose Burke as the victim of Sunday’s fatal apartment fire. (Judith Burke Facebook)

Remembering Judith Rose Burke

Burke died during a fire in her fourth-floor apartment in Esquimalt on Sunday

Judith Rose Burke was a woman with a very tough exterior and a tender heart, remembers her coworker and friend Jennifer Pauls.

Burke died on Sunday after succumbing to a fire at her apartment building on Craigflower Road in Esquimalt. Burke was trapped on her fourth floor balcony. Several neighbours tried to coax her to jump by holding out blankets, but Burke didn’t jump. She died before any fire rescue services could get to her.

READ MORE: One woman confirmed dead following Esquimalt fire

Pauls met Burke while working together at the deli at Walmart in Saanich, and shared many laughs and memories. Through their experiences, Pauls was able to see the light in Burke, which she thinks a lot of people didn’t see.

Pauls said they never talked family but bonded over their cats, remembering a time she was sad at work because she missed her late cat, Smudge.

“I felt silly for crying and how people wouldn’t understand. Well, she looked me in the eyes and said that just because Smudge has four legs and fur doesn’t mean you love them any less, our pets are family,” Pauls said. “She teared up too and gave me a hug. That meant so much to me, you could never imagine…many at work never saw that side of her. She cared.”

Burke’s own cat, Blueberry, was seen leaping from the flaming building and landing, but is now considered missing. A local group, Find Lost and Escape Cats (FLEC) is now searching for him.

Burke was also an artist, Pauls recalled.

“One time I was down, it was the anniversary of my dad’s death. He was a journalist and artist and we chatted about him and that’s when she told me of her love for art,” Pauls said. “Just like my dad, she would be hard on herself in as far as going over a piece and feeling like she wasn’t good enough. Artists can be their own worst critics.”

ALSO READ: Fund launched for victims of fatal Esquimalt apartment fire

Burke soon realized she didn’t like working in the deli, so she transferred over to the cashier side of work, and afterwards Pauls saw her less.

Burke was usually stationed at till six, and enjoyed the human interaction in her role.

On Wednesday, a memorial was put up at her till, which was kept closed during her scheduled shift. The staff at Walmart could be seen with tears in their eyes.

“I just hope she didn’t suffer, and that once the flames took over it was fast,” Pauls said. “God, I wish she’d jumped. We all wish it but wishing won’t make it so. My heart goes out to the first responders and the folks who tried so hard to help her…they must’ve felt helpless. But at least she left us knowing people cared.”

-With files from Keri Coles

nicole.crescenzi@vicnews.com


Send a Tweet: @NicoleCrescenzi

Like us on Facebook  

Just Posted

Sooke’s Old-Fashioned Country Picnic set for Saturday

The free event combines music, kids activities, food and fun

Cycslists were all smiles during ninth Tour de Victoria

More than 2,100 cyclists participated

‘I’m just absolutely disgusted’: Husband furious after Const. Beckett’s killer gets day parole

Kenneth Fenton was sentenced to prison after he fatally struck Const. Sarah Beckett’s cruiser

Police investigating incident in Saanich neighbourhood

Neighbours tell Black Press Media that a body has been found, but police remain tight-lipped.

Colwood man takes on Ride to Conquer Cancer for 11th year in a row

Team Finn has raised almost $3 million for BC Cancer Foundation

VIDEO: Langley Ribfest met with protesters

Groups that oppose the event for various reasons plan to be on site each of the three days.

Sooke’s Old-Fashioned Country Picnic set for Saturday

The free event combines music, kids activities, food and fun

Canadians killed in Afghanistan honoured during emotional dedication ceremony

One-hundred-fifty-eight Canadian soldiers died during the mission

It’s snow joke: Up to 30 cm of snow expected to fall in northeastern B.C.

Alaska Highway, Fort Nelson to be hit with August snowstorm, according to Environment Canada

Sea-to-Sky Gondola in B.C. likely out of commission until 2020

Sea to Sky Gondola carries between 1,500 and 3,000 people every day during the summer season

Helicopter-riding dog Mr. Bentley now featured on cans of new B.C.-made beer

Partial proceeds from every pack go to Children’s Wish

PHOTOS: Weapons seized at Portland right-wing rally, counterprotests

Not all who gathered Saturday were with right-wing groups or antifa

Ferries employees participating in Denman Island cleanup for plastic-shedding ferry

The cleanup comes a few weeks after one organized by residents of the Island

Discussion on grief and loss between Stephen Colbert, Anderson Cooper goes viral

The exchange includes emotional question from Cooper, and outlook on grief as a child

Most Read