UPDATE: Tuesday, July 11, 7 a.m.
Callers reported seeing heavy black smoke coming from the upper balcony of a unit in a multi-family complex. Two fire engines, a ladder truck and approximately 30 fire fighters were used to extinguish the fire after several hours. Fire crews remained on scene until the early morning hours of July 11.
The building was heavily damaged by fire, heat, smoke and water. In total there are 12 units in the complex, eight of which are heavily damaged. The fire involvement was contained to four upper units and the roof. It is unlikely that residents will be able to return to the building for several months.
Coldstream and BX Fire departments each supplied fire fighters to help sustain operations during the fire. RCMP, BCAS, and the gas and electrical utilities also supported the response activities. Vernon’s Emergency Social Services (ESS) volunteers provided shelter, food and clothing for seven families displaced by the fire.
This was a “one team” effort with many dedicated people from the different organizations working together to achieve a common goal,” said Interim VFRS Chief David Lind.
The housing complex has been secured and fire investigators will be on scene shortly. At this point no cause of the fire has been determined.
Lind reported that no residents were injured and one fire fighter received medical attention for minor injuries.
“This was a difficult job” said Lind. “ I am impressed with our first arriving fire fighters, they did the right things in those first moments which sets up the rest of the operation for success. Throughout this event I witnessed excellent team work by all those involved. Vernon’s ESS volunteers consistently provide needed support and compassion to displaced residents. These are hard situations for the residents, this type of support can really help them to get through those first days after a fire.”
Lind asks that residents plan and practice a fire escape plan from their home. Remember, you need two ways out.
UPDATE: 8:05 p.m.
Residents of a Vernon apartment complex have been evacuated due to a fire in one of the units.
A fire broke out around 6 p.m. Monday in the Arbor Lee Apartments at 3800 40th Avenue (backing onto Turtle Mountain).
David Worrall who lives near the apartment buildings says he heard a loud explosion close by.
“When I came out and saw flames I told my wife there’s a fire up there,” said Worrall, who immediately ran to the apartment and started knocking on doors to make sure everyone was out.
“Everyone and their pets got out safely,” he said.
Alysia Preece lives in one of the nearby units, but not the affected block (the fire started in the 55-65 unit) and got a call from her sister shortly after 6 saying she needed to get home and get her animals out as her house was on fire.
“But it wasn’t our house,” said five-year-old Chloe Preece, wearing a mask as she watched the firefighters battle the blaze.
“It was very scary I was shaking when I got home,” said Alysia.
Residents and bystanders were choking on the thick smoke from the blaze, some given masks by emergency crews.
Emergency Social Services are on scene assisting residents.
“The buildings been evacuated,” said Vernon fire chief David Lind.
The blaze got into the attic and spread to nearby units and proved to be stubborn for crews who had to cut open the roof to get at it.
Those in the area and passing by are asked to keep their vehicles out of the way as crews had a tight squeeze getting firetrucks up 40th Avenue to the apartment.
“Any unnecessary traffic if you could keep the roadways clear and open,” said Lind. “It would help with the response.”
Considering the narrow roadways and limited access as the apartment backs onto the hillside, fire has long been a concern for Worrall.
“We’ve always been worried about a fire on the hill here.”
An apartment unit at the Arbor Lee in Vernon is reportedly on fire following a possible BBQ explosion.
Fire crews are on scene battling the flames at 3800 40th Avenue.
The blaze started in a top floor unit just before 7 p.m. Monday night.
More to come.