Okanagan Centre fire started by accident: Outside candle likely to blame

Fire that destroyed the home of Ray Tremblay last week appears to have been started by a burning candle outside

Okanagan Centre fire started by accident: Outside candle likely to blame

It appears that a fire that destroyed a home in Okanagan Centre last week was accidentally ignited by a burning candle on the balcony of the home on Maddock Ave.

Fire crews were called to the blaze in the early morning hours of May 25, with the first fire-fighters arriving on scene within 12 minutes of the original 911 call, only to find the home fully engulfed by fire.

Witness pictures and video were used to help fire investigators try to pinpoint a cause of the blaze. Deputy fire chief Brent Penner says extensive damage to the home means the exact cause is difficult to establish but adds it started outside on the home’s balcony.

“We’ve gone through the investigation process, we spoke with neighbours and we have a lot of video coverage, even before we arrived,” said Penner. “We do know it started on the outside balcony at the front of the house and it looks to be accidental. The probable cause is one of several candles outside that was lit that night.”

The fire destroyed the home of Lake Country resident Ray Tremblay, whose son owns the home but was not in the house at the time of the fire. Ray Tremblay was able to escape from the blaze.

“It was lucky that he got out alive, with that much fire going on,” said fire chief Steve Windsor, who along with Penner, was first to arrive on the scene, and said the fire had taken hold by that time. “The house was fully involved on both levels with fire showing from every window and doorway.”

Some residents complained about the response from the Lake Country Fire Department, a paid-on call department, but Penner said the first fire truck was staffed with five firefighters and left the Winfield fire hall within six minutes of the original 911 call and arrived on scene 16 minutes after the emergency page.

“We were called to the fire at 1:20 a.m. and our guys did what any paid on-call department does, they got out of bed and had a good response,” said Penner, who said firefighters don’t sleep in the hall and have to respond from their own homes. “We didn’t lose any other structures and it didn’t go up the hill side. If you have a big fire in the interface you don’t always get the best of it, but this time we did.”