‘Embers the size of dinner plates’: Nanoose Bay house burns to the ground

'Embers the size of dinner plates': Nanoose Bay house burns to the ground
Bruce McLennan
Firefighters responded to a fire at an abandoned home in Nanoose Bay on Dec. 9, 2022.

Firefighters battled high winds and a live power line at a Nanoose Bay house fire, but the home was destroyed.

Pat Terfloth who lives just a few doors down noticed the first signs of smoke and flames before calling 911.

“I headed outside to come take a look and by that time the front of the roof was completely engulfed already,” he told CHEK News at the scene Saturday.

The Nanoose Bay Fire Department Duty Officer who arrived at the home on Dolphin Drive first also found the fire quickly destroying the home.

“He saw flames coming through the roof and flames through any window that he could get a vantage point of so more or less the whole house was fully engulfed in flames,” said Fire Chief Doug Penny.

Fire crews quickly encountered a major problem. A live hydro wire coming from the house was in jeopardy of falling to the ground.

“There was live hydro hooked up to the house still and that wall was basically compromised by fire ready to come down at any time so we had to keep our crews clear from that for safety,” added Penny.

Firefighters waited over an hour for a BC Hydro crew to arrive from Courtenay to turn off the power. Strong winds and downed power lines had kept other hydro crews busy.

“Well all we could do was do what we could with the deck gun and from the other end of the house but access was very limited for that part,” Penny said.

The back side of the house was not accessible either due to a steep drop-off.

Firefighters were forced to cut down two large trees beside the road so they could aim a fire monitor mounted on a truck towards the fire.

Strong winds were blowing large pieces of ash towards nearby properties.

“There was a strong south east wind blowing right off the nearby water and embers were flying horizontally several hundred feet away from the house the size of dinner plates,” said Penny.

Fortunately it was also raining heavily at the time of the fire.

“Had it happened in the summer or the fall all of us around here would have been in danger,” added Terfloth. “The trees would have gone up like match sticks.”

The house which sits at the corner Dolphin Drive and Oak Leaf Drive was once occupied by an elderly couple who has since moved into a care home in Victoria, however the property had fallen into disrepair and was empty.

“It’s been a long-standing home here and at one time was one of the nicest homes in the area I’ve been told but over the last few years it’s been run down, I don’t think they were able to keep up with it,” said Terfloth.

Firefighters eventually doused the flames but were called back to the scene at 6:00 a.m. Saturday because the fire had sparked up again.

The cause of the blaze has not been determined.

Dean StoltzDean Stoltz

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