UPDATE: Penticton firefighters battle the elements as well as house fire

Penticton firefighters work to put out a house fire in the 1400 block of Government Street in Penticton, Monday, Jan. 16, 2017.

PENTICTON - Penticton firefighters are battling mother nature as well as a structure fire this afternoon.

The fire broke out at 1449 Government St. around 2:45 this afternoon, Jan. 16, and firefighters expected to be on scene until late in the afternoon as they battle not only fire, but frigid temperatures and strong south winds.

“It’s not only the bitter cold, but ice and steam created by cold conditions. The optics from steam created from the excessive cold hinders fire operations,” he says.

Penticton fire chief Larry Watkinson says origin of the blaze is unknown at this time, but firefighters arrived to find flames burning aggressively in the back of the building. He says the fire was being fuelled by a secondary source.

“It was like a huge blowtorch at the back of the building,” he says, adding firefighters made an aggressive attack to knock down the flames.

Watkinson says the fire department has been told all the occupants escaped the building.

Michael Mackenzie says he noticed smoke coming from the building and went to the front door to see if he could help. He says he was able to get into the house three times prior to the fire department’s arrival and helped three adults and three kids get out. Mackenzie said the flames spread quickly.

— This story was updated at 4:30 p.m. Monday, Jan. 16 to provide additional information from a witness and the Penticton Fire Department.

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