UPDATE: Nov. 15 12:47 p.m.
Fire investigators are once again returning to the scene Thursday, after a massive blaze destroyed numerous vehicles, damaged many more and forced the sudden evacuation of a Kelowna apartment building earlier Wednesday morning.
On Nov. 14 at 4:20 a.m., RCMP were called to assist the Kelowna Fire Department who responded to a report of multiple motor vehicles engulfed in flames parked outside a building located in the 1900 block of Pandosy Street. Police assisted with the sudden evacuation of the multi-unit dwelling, which was being threatened by the fast spreading fire.
The fire which spread to a carport parking structure, caused radiant heat damage to as many as 11 motor vehicles and completely destroyed nine others.
“Key video evidence has been gathered from a surveillance camera installed near the scene,” said Cpl. Jesse O’Donaghey. “A full review of the footage has enabled police to deem the blaze an arson.”
GIS fire investigators are releasing a segment of the video to the public in hopes of advancing their investigation. The video clip shows an unknown individual, associated to a bicycle, as he or she allegedly ignites the blaze. Police have reason to believe an accelerant was used by the suspect.
“RCMP ask all gas stations in the surrounding areas of this fire scene to conduct a review of their transactions in the hours leading up to the massive blaze,” said Cpl. Jesse O’Donaghey. “We are particularly interested in any smaller point of sale purchases, especially those to an individual or individuals who attended the store on foot or on bicycle.”
Anyone with anything that may be of interest to our investigators, is urged to contact Const. Nathan Nickel of the Kelowna RCMP General Investigation Section at 250-470-6261. Or remain completely anonymous by calling Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477 or by leaving a tip online at www.crimestoppers.net
At approximately 4:00 a.m. the Kelowna Fire Department dispatch center received 911 calls reporting vehicles on fire at the rear of an apartment building in the 1900 Block of Pandosy Street.
Lester Cabaneros, a resident of the building and who’s work truck was among the 10 destroyed cars, had to miss work because of the fire.
“I’m still in shock. My truck is gone. Thousands of dollars worth of tools and equipment gone too. I can’t work today, and I’m not sure when I will be able to get back to work after this.”
The first arriving officer reported multiple vehicles on fire. The vehicles were parked under an open carport that was in close proximity to an apartment building. The heat and smoke from the fire had extended onto the apartment building causing a small fire on one of the balconies and also cracking some of the exterior windows.
Cabaneros and another resident, Grant Steenburgh, had been waiting outside their apartments since four in the morning.
“Someone was running down the halls and knocking on the doors and yelling for people to get out,” said Steenburgh. “We’re lucky nobody was hurt. We haven’t been told when we can go back in or anything. Some of the suites look totally uninhabitable.”
The fires were knocked down with no further extension. Occupants were evacuated from the apartment building. There were no injuries to Fire personnel or residence. The residual smoke was then ventilated from the building.
Kelowna Fire Department responded with five engines, one ladder truck, rescue unit, safety vehicle and a command vehicle. The fire is suspicious in nature and is being investigated by RCMP and Kelowna Fire Dept. investigators.
Test your smoke alarm. They do save lives.
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