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UPDATE: Fireplace renovations result in Okanagan Falls house fire

Homeowner Mac Geregoodoff (left foreground, back to camera) watches as Okanagan Falls firefighters extinguish a fire in his Birch Street residence this afternoon, Sept. 30, 2016.
September 30, 2016 - 2:48 PM

OKANAGAN FALLS - Mac Geregoodoff and his wife could only stand in the street and watch helplessly after fire broke out in their Birch Street home in Okanagan Falls this afternoon.

The Geregoodoffs were having a gas fireplace installed in their living room when a torch ignited the insulation around the chimney around 1:15 p.m., Sept. 30.

"It went up fast. Everything was so dry," Geregoodoff says. Geregoodoff, his wife and a contractor working in the house were able to escape without injury.

Smoke from the fire could be seen from several kilometres away.

Firefighters managed to knock the blaze down quickly, containing it to the living room and attic and roof area above. Nevertheless, the fire breached the exterior wall around the chimney, and also made its way to the roof where firefighters continued to concentrate their efforts through Friday afternoon.

The house also suffered smoke and water damage.

"It's sad to see this happen to a neighbour, to someone you know," said a person who was watching from the street.

Geregoodoff, who has lived at the same address for 22 years, says he has insurance. 

"I guess we'll have to think about what we're going to do next, but no one was hurt, so I guess we'll be okay," he says.

Okanagan Falls firefighters battle a blaze on Birch Street in the community this afternoon, Sept. 30, 2016.
Okanagan Falls firefighters battle a blaze on Birch Street in the community this afternoon, Sept. 30, 2016.

— This story was updated at 2:20 p.m., Friday, Sept. 30, 2016 to include more information.

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