‘Tower of flames’: Residents displaced after fire destroys North Saanich home

'Tower of flames': Residents displaced after fire destroys North Saanich home
Photo submitted by: Michele Sealey
Fire engulfs a North Saanich home, June 9, 2024.

Officials say residents are displaced following an early morning house fire in North Saanich, where a witness captured pictures of large flames spewing from the property.

“It was bad,” said Michele Sealey, who posted photos of the fire to X (formerly Twitter). “Huge fire that could be seen from Wain Road, which is a distance away.”

Adam Elia, a fire captain with the North Saanich Fire Department, says crews were called to the fire on Highview Place around 1:40 a.m. Sunday, June 9, to find the house fully involved in flames.

He says crews from the Central Saanich and Sidney fire departments were also called to the scene, and about 30 firefighters helped battle the blaze.

Twelve fire apparatus, or fire trucks, were also on scene.

After the fire broke out, it looked like a “tower of flames,” said Sealey after reviewing the photos.

A caller across the Saanich Inlet on the Malahat, meanwhile, says the flames “illuminated the whole bay.”

Home ‘a complete loss’

According to the North Saanich Volunteer Firefighters Association, “the home that the fire started in is a complete loss.”

After the fire was classified as defensive, the association says crews’ “top priority” was to protect surrounding homes and forest from igniting.

“It was a defensive fire, yes,” Elia told CHEK News.

A defensive attack happens when a fire is too large or dangerous to be fought from the inside, so crews work from the outside “to ensure it does not get any worse,” explains FireRescue 1.

Elia says the house being up a hill made fire suppression even more difficult.

“Access was a bit of a struggle, and water supply at the top of the hill was a bit of a challenge. In the end, we had lines set up at two locations and were able to contain the fire and stop its spread to the neighbouring structures,” he said.

“We basically had sort of all our lines in place within half an hour.”

The firefighters’ association took to Facebook saying crews used 1,600 feet of high-volume hose to “boost hydrant pressure” and also extinguished “small smouldering grass fires and some small shrubbery and trees ignited due to the radiant heat.”

Investigation underway

No one was injured, but Elia adds that those who lived there are now displaced.

“All occupants made it out of the house,” he said. “They’d be displaced, yup.”

He says crews did a good job ensuring the fire didn’t spread to neighbouring buildings.

“The houses that were likely to be involved if things got out of hand were part of a strata, and the house that was on fire was on an adjacent road higher up on a hill,” he said.

The cause of the fire is now under investigation.

“The cause is unknown, it will be under investigation later today,” added Elia in an interview Sunday morning.

“We still have crews on scene keeping an eye on it, ensuring it doesn’t reignite.”

Ethan MorneauEthan Morneau

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