August 13, 2013 - 10:38 AM
"BETWEEN THE HOUSES WAS BASICALLY A BALL OF FIRE"
VERNON - Two homes are badly damaged in Vernon's Ambleside Adult Community after a fire ripped through them early this morning.
The three people inside the houses on 53rd Avenue escaped before a natural gas line erupted sending flames shooting into homes. The smoke could be seen across the city.
The call to the fire department from one of the homeowners came at about 5 a.m. She described a large thundering noise and flames.
When crews arrived a gas line between the homes was feeding the flames, sending a ball of fire into the structures. They were fully involved. Crews hit the fire hard with water and foam.
"Between the houses was basically a ball of fire," deputy fire chief Lawrie Skolrood says.
Despite the size of the fire "the fire crews were quite proficient at stopping the fire right where it was."
But the damage was done. The two houses received severe structural damage. The roofs had collapsed and there was significant damage to the interior.
"There is a pucker factor" for crews responding to a fire of this magnitude, but Skolrood says "that's what they do."
A home just a few feet away suffered some heat damage to the vinyl siding, but that was all.
"We are always concerned with this kind of development because the houses are so close together," Skolrood says.
Joe Negraeff lives right next door. He says a big bang woke him up and then the doorbell rang. When he looked and saw the flames, he and his wife got out of the house. They watched as fire crews fought the blaze.
"It was scary. I was worried about my house going up."
A bluff of poplars behind the homes was at risk. The trees are well known to Vernon residents. They are home to several blue heron nests and the herons return to the nesting site every spring.
The investigation into the cause of the fire is underway. A number of things could have started it, according to Skolrood.
"Investigators will be looking at number of possibilities," he says. "The fact the gas was there really helped to accelerate the fire."
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News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2013