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Owners of Penticton heritage home ask for extension to clean up fire debris

110-year-old Warren House leveled by gas explosion in March
The owners of the former Warren House at 434 Lakeshore Drive are asking for an extension into the fall to clean up the fire debris that was left behind after a gas explosion in March. (City of Penticton photo taken in May 2022)

The owners of the former Warren House are asking for an extension to clean up the mounds of fire debris left behind after a gas explosion leveled their heritage house in March.

City staff, however, are recommending that council hold to the July 11 deadline because the property will remain unsightly and unsafe throughout the busy summer.

Council will decide the fate of 434 Lakeshore Drive at its Tuesday, July 7 meeting.

The heritage home was levelled by a gas explosion on March 7. Within minutes of the explosion, the majority of the home was engulfed in flames with the top floor collapsing in under 15 minutes. Named the Warren House, the stately 110-year-old home is now a heap of burned rubble.

A video made by a realtor who had the home up for sale in 2020 shows what the house looked like as a bed and breakfast during some if its best days.

VIDEO explores Warren House in all its glory

If council agrees with staff, by July 11, the city will hire its own contractors to clean up the site and add those costs to the property’s tax roll.

The owners, the Ruutels, have argued that it’s not possible to get an excavation contractor by the current deadline. The city agreed to expedite the Ruutels’ demolition permit, but the owners said it could still take two to four weeks to get done.

Originally, the Ruutels said they were waiting on their insurance company Intact to respond. They later told the city in a letter that communication attempts with the company had failed and they were filing a lawsuit against it.

However, in the Ruutels’ most recent correspondence with the city, they said they heard back from Intact on June 23, and that it will be the one in charge of clearing the site. Intact has requested a quote from ABK Restoration, according to the Ruutels.

They have now requested that the city extend their deadline a minimum of 12 weeks to Sept. 26.

In the report to council, staff have provided two alternatives for council to consider: the first being to extend the deadline to Sept. 26, and the other to take no further action.

READ MORE: Penticton wants owners to clean up fire debris of burned-down Warren House

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Monique Tamminga

About the Author: Monique Tamminga

Monique brings 20 years of award-winning journalism experience to the role of editor at the Penticton Western News. Of those years, 17 were spent working as a senior reporter and acting editor with the Langley Advance Times.
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