Smoking materials from a first-floor unit is the cause of the fire that ripped through a Skaha apartment building, displacing 50 residents in the early morning hours of Oct. 27.
The Penticton Fire Department confirmed the cause, saying that the flames crept up the building through to the roof. The blaze at the Elm Avenue complex displaced more than 50 people. Sadly, a couple died in the fire. William and Margaret Taylor were retired, loved to travel and volunteered in the community.
Penticton RCMP was called out to the blaze at 4:18 a.m. to assist the Penticton Fire Department. Once the fire was out and a structural engineer deemed it was safe to go in, fire services located the bodies of two people.
Even as the fire was still going, neighbours were offering their homes, blankets and food to the displaced residents.
Penticton fire chief Larry Watkinson said almost all the residents had insurance or have family or friends to live with.
He doesn’t know how long residents will be out of their homes.
“The renovations are taken care of by the insurance company,” said Watkinson.
After the devastation, the community wanted to rally around the fire victims.
A donation centre was set up at the Penticton Salvation Army thrift store and financial donations could go through the Canadian Red Cross.
“We were inundated with donations for the fire victims,” said Al Madsen, Salvation Army business manager.
“We were given so much we could supply all of Penticton with items for their home. Eventually, we couldn’t take anymore. Here in Penticton, we don’t know how lucky we are with everyone so willing to help those in need, no matter what the situation.”
Another example of this caring community is the Christmas hamper donations they get every year.
“Because of the community’s care, we were able to make 750 hampers,” he said. Those hampers were provided to those in need in Penticton, Keremeos and Cawston.