Fire erupts at auto body shop in north end - InfoNews

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Fire erupts at auto body shop in north end

September 26, 2013 - 4:04 PM

UPDATE: Building "a complete loss"

3:30 p.m. Sept. 26

A fire that tore through White Stag Autobody just after 8:45 a.m. has destroyed the building. The exact cause of the fire is still unkown. The Kelowna Fire Department continues to investigate a crew mops up the remaining hot spots.

Four engines, one rescue vehicle, a ladder truck, hazmat unit, two city suction trucks along with 20 firefighters were called to the scene. They were also assisted by BCAS, RCMP and Fortis Gas and Electrical.

Luckily they were able to prevent the flames from reaching roughly forty 45-gallon barrels of paint thinners and other hazardous materials. City suction trucks were also able to contain water runoff from spilling into Brandt's Creek.

The hazmat team did not detect any water contamination.

Platoon Captain Dale Calhoun says only one person was taken to the hospital for smoke inhalation, but the building itself is considered "a complete loss."

11:36 p.m. Sept. 26

A fire that erupted at White Stag Autobody located at 1140 Brant Avenue is out.

The 40-year-old business is located just off Gordon Drive north of Clement, in the light industrial neighbourhood in the north end of the city.

Deputy Fire Chief Darren Lee says they believe the fire was electrical, but can't confirm.

Black smoke from the fire was visible beginning about 8:45 a.m. says bystander James Merkley who works at the adjacent towing company.

"It was roaring," he said, the smoke appearing to come from the paint booth of the autobody shop

The fire raised three alarms and 30 firefighters raced to the scene where they had the blaze quickly under control. By 9:30, evidence of the fire was reduced with just a small amount of smoke still emanating from the building and black stains around doors and windows.

White Stag collision technician Mark Morgan was working in the shop this morning.

"I saw something so went around the corner and it was already burning," he says of the fire that spread quickly from the paint booth to the main shop. 

RCMP officers at the scene say the biggest problem battling the fire was the toxic chemicals in the smoke that get into the water they're using to quell the flames, because the runoff could end up in nearby Brandt's Creek.

Everyone was evacuated safely from the burning building, along with ten people from a condominium at the end of the street and five employees from Luigi's Towing.

Shop owner Frank Vaski calmly watched from the street as fire crews worked to put out the smoke. 

"It's upsetting, obviously it's not going to be the day that I anticipated," he said. Surveying the damage, he was most concerned about the paint booth and roof of the concrete building.

"I was barely out of the building before I called the insurance," he said.

Gordon Drive is expected reopen to traffic later this afternoon.

To contact the reporter for this story, email Julie Whittet at or call (250)718-0428.

Audio: Deputy Fire Chief Darren Lee explains the situation.


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