Cigarettes or portable heaters could be the cause of a fatal house fire in Comox that claimed the life of two residents on Friday, according to the local fire department.
An elderly couple perished in the afternoon blaze at 1783 Ryan Rd. E, between Anderton Road and Military Row and across the street from Simply Amish Furniture Gallery, says Gord Schreiner, fire chief at Comox Fire Rescue.
While firefighters got the call around 4:15 p.m. and were on scene within minutes alongside police and paramedics, Schreiner says it was too late to save the two residents.
“Smoking habits could be an issue here,” he told CHEK News in an interview Monday, noting one victim was a smoker, and both had mobility issues.
Crews found the couple in a back sunroom, described as a contained and covered porch, which is where the fire originated and also where the residents “spent most days” sitting together, Schreiner says.
Fire alarms were activated in the main house, but not in the sunroom, leading investigators to believe it may have been “a situation where hearing might have been an issue,” the fire chief says.
Portable heaters also heated the house.
Another scenario is that the couple could have been asleep at the time of the fire, according to Schreiner, who notes “it wouldn’t have been unusual that they might have been sleeping or nodding off” at that time of day.
A total of three fire engines and 20 personnel, or “everyone available,” were called to battle the flames, which they found fully engulfing the home around 15 minutes after the call came in.
Other family members also lived at the same address, but there were no other injuries reported, and no other surrounding structures were damaged, adds Schreiner.
He says the cause of the fire has not yet been determined, though investigators hope to rule out its origin by the end of this week.