Cause of West Kelowna community centre fire 'suspicious'

West Kelowna Fire Rescue crews work to put out the stubborn fire at the Westbank Lion's Community Centre on Sunday.


UPDATE: 10 a.m. Sept. 3, 2013

WEST KELOWNA - Evidence collected at the scene of the fire at the Westbank Lion's Community Centre indicates the cause is suspicious and the matter is now in the hands of the West Kelowna RCMP.

The investigation will continue. 

Firefighters responded to a report of the fire at about 8:30 a.m Sept. 1 at 2466 Main Street in West Kelowna.

UPDATE: 11:08 a.m. Sept 1, 2013

WEST KELOWNA - The fire at the over 80 year old Westbank Lion’s Community Centre is proving to be a stubborn one to fight.

The 2-storey wood building on Main St. in West Kelowna caught fire just after 8:30 a.m. Sunday.

West Kelowna fire crews arrived to find the blaze was “fully involved.”

“It looks like it (the fire) was on the vinyl siding and into the eaves,” fire chief Wayne Schnitzler says. “It was spreading quite quickly when they (firefighters) got here.”

When asked if the fire was human caused, Schnitzler would only say that the investigator is on the scene and looking into that.

Schnitzler says this is another case of combustible, vinyl siding on the side of building. “It just starts melting and burning viciously.”

It’s too early to tell if any of the building is salvageable or if it’s a total write-off. “We need to get inside to have a look,” he says.

A long day is in store for West Kelowna firefighters. They have to use saws to cut into the old, wood structure to get at the fire. Plus the building is old with lots of open space between wood-on-wood walls for the fire to burn.

The fire burned mainly in the walls, according to the fire chief. “Inside there’s a lot of smoke and heat damage.”

There are 20 firefighters still on the scene.

“Of course as it gets hotter we’re going to have to rotate guys in and out with the fire and heat temperatures today,” Schnitzler says with the heat exposure they’ll be monitoring the crews.

He says the roof is too unstable to walk on so they are pouring water onto the building with a ladder truck as the work continues to get the fire completely out.
Chief Schnitzler says the fire is having a big impact on people in the community.

“This building is so old it has a lot of community ties. I’ve had a lot of the older people showing up here that have worked on the building in the past or had weddings in here. It has a lot of memories in the community.”


Wedding scheduled in Lion’s Hall saved by community

There was supposed to be a wedding reception at the hall this afternoon.

Wedding planner Heather Bridge couldn’t believe the news.

“I thought it was a cruel joke or an over dramatization when I got the message that my wedding venue was on fire.”

As she drove toward West Kelowna from Peachland this morning and saw the smoke she cried, “Oh no, oh no.”

Almost everything for the wedding was destroyed from the food to the decorations. Firefighters managed to save one box with a pair of wine glasses and a cake topper inside.

The wedding must go on.

Bridge says the Holiday Inn in West Kelowna is providing a room for the event.

“The ladies from the Peachland Ambassador’s Program have rallied around me,” she says. “They have made a bunch of salads for the food.”

A friend is donating wedding décor and Save On Foods has donated flowers.

“I’m just blown away but what this community is doing for these people.”

Bridge will never forget planning this wedding, “It’s one for the record books that’s for sure.”

Lenetta Parry posted a message on Facebook from her friend, wedding planner Heather Bridge.
Lenetta Parry posted a message on Facebook from her friend, wedding planner Heather Bridge.
Image Credit: Facebook


Credit: Marshall Jones


Crews work to put out the fire at the Westbank Lion's Community Centre in downtown West Kelowna Sunday morning.


UPDATE: 9:54 a.m., Sept 1, 2013

West Kelowna firefighters have the blaze at the Westbank Lion's Community Centre under control.

The fire broke out this morning at the historic, landmark on Main Street in downtown West Kelowna.

While the fire is under control, firefighters are still working to get it out completely.

No word yet on the what caused the fire.


UPDATE: 9:31 a.m., Sept. 1, 2013

Fire is blazing at the Westbank Lion's Community Centre right now and it's proving to be a tough blaze to fight.

West Kelowna Fire Dept. crews had to break through big, steel doors to get inside the burning building.

Firefighters are pouring water onto the community hall, which is right next door to St. George's Anglican Church. People are just arriving for Sunday church services.


9:25 a.m. Sept. 1, 2013

WEST KELOWNA - Fire crews are on the scene of a blaze at the Westbank Lions Club on Main Street in West Kelowna.

Smoke can be seen from throughout West Kelowna and across the lake in Kelowna.

InfoTel News has a reporter on the scene.

We’ll keep you up-to-date.

The Westbank Lion's Community Centre is right on Main St. in downtown West Kelowna.
The Westbank Lion's Community Centre is right on Main St. in downtown West Kelowna.
Image Credit: Google Maps

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