A fire that destroyed a Lake Country townhome and damaged several others earlier this month started because of a fault in the fuel system on one of two vehicles parked in front of the townhome complex on Powley Court.
Lake Country fire chief Steve Windsor said his department’s investigation as well as insurance investigators pin-pointed the cause of the blaze that caused upwards of $500,000 in damage to two vehicles as well as several townhomes.
Windsor said there appeared to be a malfunction in the fuel system in one of the vehicles parked in the driveway. When the resident tried to start the older model car, she noticed small fire in the engine. Windsor said there was a fire extinguisher in the vehicle but by the time the resident got the pin out of the extinguisher, the fire had spread quickly and was out of control.
“There was a bit of a fuel leak and it probably sparked when there was a short in the system,” said Windsor. “The car was left running and the electric fuel pump kept pumping fuel into the system.”
Windsor said there was a small breeze that helped the fire spread to a second vehicle and then onto the townhouse’s vinyl siding.
He said the resident did the right thing by getting away from the fire and calling the fire department.
“Sometimes in these situations the best thing is to get out of the vehicle,” he said. “Property can be replaced but a person’s life or serious burn injuries can’t be changed. The first thing is to get away.”
A series of townhomes were damaged but the first two in the complex were the most serious and the residents remain out of their homes.
Windsor said the main townhome where the fire started will have to be gutted and suffered major damage while the neighboring unit will also need to have floors, drywall, insullaltion and roofing replaced. He expects it will be several months before the residents can return to their units.
Several other units suffered smoke damage but the residents in those homes were able to return home last week.
Windsor said the damage was limited by Lake Country fire crews and the natural conditions.
“It definitely could have been a lot worse,” he said. “We could have ultimately lost that whole side of the building if it had been very windy and it could have even spread to the neighboring townhomes. We were very lucky and it was a good save for the guys (who fought the fire.)”