Fire that destroyed historic Kelowna homestead was 'human failing' not arson | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Fire that destroyed historic Kelowna homestead was 'human failing' not arson

The remains of the Fleming house in Kelowna, July 5, 2018.
July 05, 2018 - 5:00 PM

KELOWNA - The 147-year-old Fleming house was on its way to becoming one of Kelowna’s oldest buildings.

The fire that ripped through the original farmhouse, built in 1871, took just minutes to turn it into a charred ruin.

“It was through the roof on arrival so it was an exterior attack only,” Kelowna Fire Department deputy chief Larry Hollier said. “We weren’t going to risk going in so it was exterior spray only.”

Hollier said the investigation is closed into what caused the fire that broke out Monday, July 2 around 6 p.m.

“This was basically a human-error fire, not arson,” he said, with signs that someone was burning something to keep warm. “It was a human failing. It wasn’t intentionally set in our eyes. No accelerant was used and there was no forced entry.”

Hollier the area along the old CN Rail right-of-way has long been known for transients and homeless people camping out.

“It’s been like that up and down the rail line for years,” he said. “We’ve had numerous campfire issues, abandoned fires there over the years.”

The Fleming house sits beside the Brent Grist Mill on Leckie Place, another of the oldest buildings in the Central Okanagan still standing from the late 1800s, both of them originally built by Frederick Brent, according to the City of Kelowna website.

Brent sold the by-then 2,000 acre property in 1893 when the house was used as a hunting lodge before being purchased in 1900 by John Dilworth who undertook extensive remodelling, including cladding the original cut-log house in milled siding.

Dilworth sold the house and piece of his shortly after finishing the alterations to William Fleming who farmed the property until 1925.

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