Fire rips through Penticton boarding house

An early morning fire on Saturday left residents of a Penticton boarding house with only the clothes on their backs.

Penticton Fire Department members arrive on the scene of a fire on Ellis Street Saturday morning as flames shoot from the roof of the building at the back of the property.

An early morning fire on Saturday left residents of a Penticton boarding house with only the clothes on their backs.

Pastor Pete Harris of Another Chance Ministry, also known as the street pastor, said residents of the house known as Pine Lodge jumped out of bed and made it out of the residence safely, albeit some without shoes.

“They are all upset and have no idea what is next,” wrote Pastor Pete in his blog, adding some living essentials have been purchased for the residents. “Please pray. There is a lot of needs to be met and I have no idea exactly what they will be or how they will be met.”

Fire Chief Wayne Williams said the structure fire was called in around 7:22 a.m. on Saturday.

Firefighters arrived on scene finding a shed in the backyard of a house on Ellis Street on fire. It is believed someone was living in the shed and the flames from the fire extended to the house itself.

“No one was hurt, but three firefighters did suffer injuries because of the cold temperatures. There was some ice there and we had a couple of slips. No members of the public were hurt and the fire remains under investigation,” said Williams

Williams said insurance adjusters were at the residence on Monday and the fire department has not received word on how much damage was done in terms of a dollar amount. The fire chief said there was visible heavy smoke damage in the house and some of the rooms were destroyed.

“No one is in there right now and the tenants that were in there have been accommodated by emergency social services for 72 hours,” said Williams.

Debbie Robertson, a third party administrator for Piers Partners, which offers life skills coaching and workshops, employment services and assessments to those overcoming barriers including some of the people living at Pine Lodge, said the residents are desperate for help.

“People really still need assistance. Success is happening as far as placement and some do have homes found. None of the people have any clothes. They have just what’s on their back and are basically waiting for emergency social services, but there has been limited success in contacting them,” said Robertson.

“These people are absolutely desperate and in need of household items. There are people that barely had anything to begin with that now have nothing.”

Christine Simmons, community ministries director with the Salvation Army, said they have also been providing assistance to the residents in need by providing them with clothing and replacing any household or personal items lost in the fire through the thrift store.

“Basically we are getting items to them to help them get back on their feet again and so they can set up their new households,” said Simmons.

Firefighters were kept busy on Saturday also responding to a call at 6:53 a.m., extinguishing flames inside the kitchen area of Earl’s Restaurant on Main Street.