House fires keep Island firefighters busy throughout the past week

House fires keep Island firefighters busy throughout the past week
Flames engulf a Campbell River home, Friday, June 7, 2024.

Billowing smoke breaks through trees Tuesday morning as a house is on fire on Taylor Beach in Metchosin.

Walking along the beach, local resident Tony Austin shot video from a safe distance.

“We look around, and we can see black smoke, and we can see black smoke coming up above the trees as we were walking along the beach,” Austin said.

The fire appeared to be focused on the back deck, which was quickly engulfed in flames.

“The fire department arrived on scene about five after seven, maybe a little earlier. I think several departments were scrambled to it,” Austin said.

Fortunately, no one was home at the time.

Fires in Nanaimo, Campbell River, North Saanich

But it’s the latest in a string of house fires on Vancouver Island within the past week.

Nanaimo Fire Department fire investigator Capt. Alan Millbank walked around a heavily damaged house in the 600 block of Abby Lane on Monday.

Six people were living there, but again, no one was injured. Fortunately, they were insured.

“We had a household of two families that live in a single-family dwelling,” Millbank said.

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An 82-year-old woman managed to escape a raging house fire in Campbell River last Friday. Rita Hall told CHEK News she didn’t see or hear the fire inside her home.

“Then I heard this bang, and all my lights went out. I thought that was strange. And then I smelled smoke. So I went to investigate,” Hall said.

A passing driver came by, heard the woman’s calls for help, and rescued her.

Days later, a house fire in North Saanich started early Sunday morning. Witnesses described it as a tower of flames, illuminating the entire bay.

Hundreds of fires so far this year

These are not the only fires testing local fire crews lately, according to Saanich Fire assistant deputy chief Craig Ford.

“We’ve had a number of different fires ranging from commercial to house fires to a townhouse fire,” he said. “Most were kept either to either the room of content or the building of origin.”

According to the Office of B.C.’s fire commissioner, 249 fires occurred on Vancouver Island in the first three months of 2024, resulting in $18 million in losses.

Five people were injured, and one person died.

The causes of these major fires, all within the past week, are still under investigation. But fire officials say they serve as a good reminder to be prepared.

“Just be fire aware. Understand what it is to have a fire-smart home. We tend to hear fire smart when it comes to wildfires and that sort of thing,” Ford added.

“But you can be smart within your home as well.”

That includes installing fire detectors in every bedroom and shutting your bedroom doors at night.

Mary GriffinMary Griffin

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