Three people lost their homes in a destructive condo complex fire in Penticton, B.C., on Tuesday afternoon.
Firefighters rushed to the rental building at 296 Maple St. at approximately 5:00 p.m. to discover flames shooting through the roof.
The Penticton Fire Department called the third alarm, which means all hands on deck.
“We were able to control the fire to mostly the roof so the two units were mostly damaged and we were able to deploy heavy hand lines to be able to penetrate into the roof, and also our ladder truck was able to reach the roof,” said Penticton Fire Chief Larry Watkinson.
“At the same time, we were able to put a sizable amount of water on the fire and we were able to contain it to that one complex.”
Complex residents said they were shaken to arrive home to the unnerving scene, as fire crews barricaded the area and fought the massive blaze.
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“We were doing some afternoon shopping and a girlfriend gave us a call and said that the complex was on fire. We have a cat and dog inside and a roommate, so we dropped our groceries and ran as fast as we could,” said Melissa Neufeld, whose unit was not damaged.
“We are just glad we are OK and our neighbours are OK.”
No injuries were reported.
Watkinson said the outcome could have been much worse, as temperatures hovered around 40 C.
“It was burning quite heavily and we were really concerned it was going to burn that complex and move into the next complex but managed to be able to control the fire and evacuate the residents. No one was injured.”
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Neufeld said her friend managed to save her pets.
“Really shaken up now,” she said.
“Everybody is aware now that any little difference can make a big difference. Not having propane tanks on the deck and making sure everybody is smoking and putting them out. B.C. is, unfortunately, a fire place and now it’s looking like it’s more residential than the forest right now, that is the scary part.”
Watkinson added the immense heat posed challenging conditions for first responders.
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“It is extremely difficult. It’s one thing to be in the heat, then you put on your firefighter protective clothing, breathing apparatus, and the work, pulling hose lines, and your adrenaline is high, and you’re working hard so we really focus on the rehabilitation of our firefighters, the cooling stations, and making sure they get a good rotation through that system,” he said.
The cause of the fire is under investigation.
The Penticton Fire Department was forced to postpone a water fight with children in the community to combat the heat wave.
It has been rescheduled for Wednesday night at the South Okanagan Events Centre, beginning at 6:30 p.m.
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