Kelowna fire rips through Laurentian Heights condo

Fire damage to a condominium complex in Kelowna this morning was readily evident looking from the intersection of Harvey and Burtch - Sean Connor
Fire damage to a condominium complex in Kelowna this morning was readily evident looking from the intersection of Harvey and Burtch
— image credit: Sean Connor

Residents of the Laurentian Heights 3 condominium building at 1405 Kelglen were collecting what personal belongings they could this afternoon after a fire swept through part of the complex at about 4 a.m. Sunday.

The Kelowna Fire Department's initial response included 21 firefighters, four fire engine trucks, two ladder trucks a Rescue truck, and one command unit. Another 45 career and paid on-call staff were recalled to the scene and to also help maintain firefighting crews for other emergencies.

Upon their arrival, firefighters were greeted by well involved fire on a balcony of a unit in the southeast corner of the building.

It quickly spread into the attic area and throughout the upper part of the building, causing extensive damage to the roof and top floors in the south end of the building.

As firefighters began to deploy equipment to combat the fire, RCMP were going door to door in the unaffected areas of the building to evacuating residents. The building is home to about 100 residents in 49 units.

Most residents were transported the Emergency Social Services reception centre set to the Salvation Army Offices on Sutherland Avenue, where they were registered and set up with alternate accommodations in local hotels.

Any residents of 1405 Kelglen who have not registered with ESS are encouraged to do so. They can call Kelowna Fire Dispatch at 250-469-8801.  Fire Investigators are on scene Sunday morning to begin their work on determining the cause.

All residents  and building representatives of the condo complex are encouraged to attend a meeting tonight at 6 p.m. at the Salvation Army building on the corner of Sutherland and Burtch to discuss the future work and access to the building.

The smoke caused by the fire also caused problems for the residents and nursing staff of the Three Links Manor care facility next door.

Firefighters and paramedics assisted the care home staff to move all residents to the unaffected area of the building while firefighters ventilated the evacuated area.

Paramedics did work on a contingency plan to move resident to other care facilities in the event conditions worsen but luckily everyone was able to return to their rooms.

Tony Gordon and Curtis Woodcock, living in the unit next to the one where the fire started, were both away last night and didn't realize their unit was gutted by fire until this morning.

Gordon said he learned about it while at work, while Woodcock was confronted by the damage when driving down Harvey.

"I saw someone standing on the other side of Harvey with a camera taking pictures, and that ususally means something is going on, so I looked over and saw my building," Woodcock said.

Gordon and Woodcock were happy to see all but one of their guitars and bass instruments survived the firefighting efforts.

"We just moved in last October and were planning to move out again at the end of the month," Woodcock said.

They did not have content insurance for their belongings, something Woodcock admits now is a lesson they've learned the hard way.

"We didn't see the point of getting insurance since we were planning to move out…but I guess that's the point," he said, looking up at the fire damaged complex.

For his part, Gordon said he was glad he wasn't home, because he might not have gotten out of bed initially when the fire alarm went off.

"The fire alarm goes off in this building all the time so I probably would have just rolled over and went back to sleep," he said.

The cause of the fire is still under investigation.


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