Penticton balcony fire sparked after glue vapours ignited by heater - InfoNews

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Penticton balcony fire sparked after glue vapours ignited by heater

Captain Graham Gowe from Penticton Fire Department shows the warning labels on the container of glue used where a fire ignited on Nov. 9, 2018.
Image Credit: SUBMITTED/Penticton Fire Department
November 10, 2018 - 12:07 PM

PENTICTON - A dicey combination of flammable vapours enclosed in with an electric heater caused a flash fire on a Penticton balcony yesterday.

A worker was doing some renovations on the balcony of a fourplex near the corner of Comox Street and Eckhardt Avenue, when the site burst into flame.

Captain Graham Gowe with the Penticton Fire Department responded to the fire yesterday afternoon, Nov. 9, at about 2:54 p.m.

Gowe says the call reported visible flames but when crews arrived onsite there was nothing showing. After investigating the cause Gowe calls the worker, "very very lucky" that the flame only burned off the vapours and didn't cause significant structural damage.

The renovation company had been hired to put new decking on the balcony. The worker had covered the work area with a tarp, where he was using a flammable contact cement to glue in the flashings. He had also used an electric heater to keep the area warm.

"We're thinking the vapours got ignited by the heater that was inside that area," Gowe says over the phone.

The worker had stepped out for a moment when the fire flashed burning the tarp and the flashings. Once the vapours had burned there was a little bit of fire on the glue container but the worker was able to extinguish it with a bucket of water nearby.

"If it was the summer the deck would have been open," Gowe says. "But by him enclosing it with the tarp to keep the heat in...It contained all those vapours and got to an explosive range and it found ignition."

Gowe cautions that it can take far less power than an electric heater to ignite enclosed flammable vapours.

"Any time you use a flammable material and it releases a vapour you have to ventilate," he says. "It could have been just him flicking a light switch on and those vapours could have ignited."


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