Three trucks and 14 firefighters from the Lake Country Fire Department responded to a 2:30 a.m. call on Thursday, July 5.
The duplex on Quail Road had two families living in it, both recent renters at the property. Upstairs was a family with three young children, while in the lower portion of the home was a mother and her adult son. The adult son came home after work to find the lower unit full of smoke.
Fire Chief Steve Windsor said the occupant did the right thing when he went upstairs to wake the young family and get them out of the home and then woke his mother and got her out of their side of the duplex. “The fire hadn’t progressed at that point, it was strictly smoke,” Windsor explained. “It was a good thing he got everyone out of the house.”
The fire was slow moving because it was inside the walls. Windsor said the fire started in an older fireplace and embers fell through the chimney into the lower walls of the home. “It appears to be a defect in the structure of the fireplace, embers escaped into the walls.”
It is uncertain why the fireplace was in use, but Windsor speculates the occupants were simply trying it out. “It (the defect) might not have been picked up in an inspection and the fireplace may not have been used in a lot of years,” Windsor said.
Both families were assisted by emergency social services and provided with hotel rooms in Kelowna for up to 72 hours.
On Friday, Windsor wasn’t certain if they had tenant’s contents insurance, but the department covered much of the contents of the homes before attacking the fire inside the walls, and damage to the property was limited.
It is unclear why the smoke alarm in the basement did not go off and the LCFD is investigating the subject. The upstairs of the home did not have enough smoke when the fire was discovered to have activated the alarm.