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Second fire at vernon apartment building in four months

Damage from an April 2013 fire at the Capri Gardens apartment building on 35th Avenue.
July 31, 2013 - 9:07 AM

UPDATE: 4:30 P.M. July 31

An investigation into the cause of Tuesday's fire at the Capri Gardens apartment building has revealed that an unattended oxygen tank helped start the blaze.

Deputy fire chief Lawrie Skolrood says the oxygen tank, which was used by the occupant for health reasons, was left on in a fourth floor bedroom.

"It must have come into contact with an ignition source," Skolrood says. "There were candles in the room, evidence of smoking material, and an electrical fan. It was likely one of those."

It appears the tank had run empty before firefighters arrived on scene, a blessing according to Skolrood.

"If it had been full, the damage would have been much worse," he says.

Another mitigating factor was that the occupant shut the door to the bedroom before evacuating the building.

"That helped to contain it. Any time you shut a door, it helps protect you from fire," Skolrood says. "This is a big reason it didn't progress a lot further."

4:47 p.m. July 31, 2013

VERNON - A fire that prompted the evacuation of an entire apartment building appears to have started in a bedroom mattress.

Deputy chief of operations Jack Blair says the fire department responded to a report of smoke around 4 p.m. Tuesday at the Capri Gardens apartment building on 35th Avenue. All residents were evacuated as firefighters knocked down the fire, which they traced back to the bedroom of a fourth floor unit.

"It appeared to be a smoldering fire in a mattress, in some bedding," Blair says.

The unit's two occupants were home at the time, and reported seeing smoke coming out from the bedroom.

"Fortunately, they were able to get out quickly," Blair says.

By the time firefighters arrived, the fire had climbed up the bedroom drapes and was licking at the ceiling. Blair says it was extremely smoky.

"The fire and the damage was contained to the one bedroom, with some smoke and water damage in the rest of the (unit)," Blair says.

The rest of the building was able to return home about five hours later, but Blair says the two occupants from the damaged unit will be displaced for several weeks as their apartment is cleaned up and decontaminated.

The cause of the fire is as of yet undetermined, and an investigation will be conducted Wednesday. Blair says candles were found in the room, and speculates they may have caused the fire.

This is the second fire at Capri Gardens this year, with the first damaging three units and displacing residents over the Easter long weekend.

To contact the reporter for this story, email Charlotte Helston at, call (250)309-5230 or tweet @charhelston.

News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2013
InfoTel News Ltd

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