(with files from Kristi Patton)
A major fire gutted two residential suites in Okanagan Falls last night.
Fire Chief Bob Haddow said they were called to the fire in residential units behind 1016 Main St. at about 2 a.m. Friday morning.
Both rental units were heavily damaged in the fire, he said, leaving four residents without a home.
|Two families lost their homes when fire gutted two suites in Okanagan Falls overnight Friday.|
“That part of the double unit, that’s pretty well done and the rest of the main building is fine, just a little smoke damage in a couple of the units,” said Haddow. All the tenants got out safely, he said, and there were no injuries.
Greg “Reno” Andrew was up late working on a bike when he heard the sound of a window breaking. Investigating, he walked down the alley and realized the sound came from his neighbours’ building.
“I saw the smoke billowing out and I saw the orange inside the house there,” said Andrew. “ I thought I better go get these people up and just started pounding on the doors.”
The two suites are rented by a family, with Ang Doggett living on one side, and her daughter Ammie living on the other, where the fire broke out.
Ang was in the back of the unit watching TV when she heard an explosion.
“We were watching a movie waiting for my daughter to come home and there was a big boom that rattled the house and by the time I hit the living room, he (Andrew) was banging on the door, telling us that my daughter’s house was on fire.
“We owe a lot to Reno (Mike Andrew). We love Reno.”
Andrew also warned upstairs neighbours before running back to protect his own home.
“Flames got bigger and higher and I started to hose down the side of my house. Flames were licking my house,” said Andrew.
The Doggetts escaped the fire with little more than the clothes on their backs. Ammie’s home was completely gutted, and Ang describes hers as three-quarters burnt, with smoke and water damage through the rest.
“My daughter lost everything. The only things she has is what’s on her back and what is in her purse,” said Ang.
That includes losing not only clothes and personal items, but irreplaceable memories like baby pictures of Ammie’s children.
For herself, Ang said firefighters went into the building and recovered her purse and her husband’s wallet.
“And I salvaged a pair of steel-toed boots and that is pretty much it,” she said. “We have a room at the hotel until monday, but after that we have to figure out what we are doing.”
Vance Potter, who lives across from the burning units said he was woken about 2:20 a.m. and went outside to see the units fully engulfed in flame.
“It was just intense flames,” said Potter, who watched as the firefighters set up and began attacking the blaze.
“Really, it was amazing to see it. I thought there would be no way they could get it beaten down, but within 10 to 15 minutes, the flames started to get pushed down,” Potter said, adding that he was concerned the fire was so intense it might jump the street into his building.
Potter said it appeared the firefighters had trouble getting the blaze under control initially, with flames seeming to calm down then bursting out again.
Haddow said the fire was mostly extinguished by about 3:30 a.m., but crews continued to work on mopping up the fire until about 8 a.m.
The cause of the fire is not yet known. Haddow said he expects to begin a full investigation of the blaze later today.
In another incident, high winds blew over the OK Corral Mall sign at the entrance to their parking lot overnight. The sign was blown into the parking lot, Haddow said, and again there were no injuries.
|Crews work through the rain Friday morning to clear debris from the OK Corral mall sign which was blown down by high winds overnight in Okanagan Falls.|
|Kristi Patton/Western News|