BREAKING: Penticton apartment fire claims 2 lives | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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BREAKING: Penticton apartment fire claims 2 lives

An apartment fire in Penticton, Tuesday, Oct. 27, 2020 claimed two lives.

The fire that ripped through a Penticton condo complex this morning has turned deadly, with two bodies found in the rubble by investigators.

Penticton RCMP said a joint investigation into the blaze with partnering agencies has located the remains of two people.

Clarence House, located at 217 Elm Avenue in the south end of the city near Skaha Lake, caught fire around 4:10 a.m. today, Oct. 27. Firefighters arrived to find heavy flame along the front and one side of building, extending to the roof line and to the rear of the building.

Firefighters worked in below freezing temperatures and were hampered by a strong south wind off Skaha Lake that helped to fan the flames.

Once the fire was out, a structural engineer was called before it was deemed safe for firefighters to conduct a search.

Emergency social services opened the City’s emergency centre at 199 Ellis St. and will be looking after the dozens of displaced residents for the next 72 hours

“Between now and then we’ll try and get an idea of what residents need from their homes, if they are accessible or not, and try and get that to the homeowners. The big question is whether the building will be accessible or not,” fire chief Larry Watkinson said.

The cause of the fire has yet to be determined, but police say it does not appear to be criminal in nature.

The B.C. Coroners Service is conducting an independent and concurrent fact-finding investigation to determine how, where, when and by what means the deaths occurred, RCMP said.

Penticton Mayor John Vassilaki issued a statement late this afternoon, saying, "On behalf of City Council and all residents of Penticton, I wish to express our deep condolences to the families and neighbours who lost loved ones and friends following this morning’s tragic fire on Elm Avenue. We join them during this time of grief with our thoughts and support."

The mayor also acknowledged the work of the city's first responders, including Penticton firefighters, the RCMP, city crews and emergency support services, "whose quick response brought the fire to an end and provided those impacted with the care and attention they immediately needed.”

- This story was updated at 4:40 p.m. Oct. 27 to include Mayor John Vassilaki's comments.

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