The Penticton fire department has called a town hall meeting for tonight (Wednesday, Oct. 28) for all the victims of the Clarence House apartment fire, said Penticton fire chief Larry Watkinson.
“We want to update them on the fire investigation and review what they need to do going forward. We also want to answer any questions they have,” said Watkinson. “We will be working with the residents and the strata. There is a significant amount of damage and it will take some time before residents can move back in.”
It’s a closed meeting for residents only, he added.
It was just after 4 a.m. on Tuesday when fire ripped through the three storey building on Elm Avenue near Skaha Lake in Penticton.
More than 50 people evacuated out of the burning building and were shuttled to an emergency centre on Ellis Street.
Penticton fire department threw everything they had at the fire and managed to put the blaze out just after 8 a.m.
Sadly, two people have lost their lives in the blaze, RCMP confirmed Tuesday evening.
On Wednesday, South Okanagan RCMP Sgt. Jason Bayda confirmed that there is no criminal investigation into the deaths of the two victims. The investigation has been handed back to the fire department and the Office of the Fire Commissioner.
No further information about the victims has been released. The Coroner will conduct its own investigation into those deaths.
All the residents who lived at Clarence House have been accounted for, confirmed Watkinson.
“The RCMP are working with the families of the two victims who died in the fire,” she said.
Currently, fire victims are being put up in a local hotel through Emergency Social Services. Three days of accommodations are provided to fire victims but the can be extended. It’s not known if the province will extend the time they can stay in the hotel.
Two fire investigators have been on scene to look into what caused the blaze that ripped through the top floor of the apartment building.
The community has rallied around the fire victims, offering shelter in their homes, clothing and cash donations and meals. But so far, there hasn’t been a place to coordinate that effort. Watkinson said they are speaking with the Red Cross tonight and will have more information soon.