Life is gradually returning to normal for the residents and employees of a Glenmore retirement home that was engulfed in flames Monday morning.
“People are rattled and some have been displaced, but everyone I’ve talked to is coping really well,” said Alex Miller, president of Caretenders Retirement Living, which manages the Highlands Retirement Residence.
“Otherwise everyone is in good health and there were no really serious injuries from the fire… just a few were treated for smoke inhalation on site.”
Although a number of residences won’t be ready for a while longer, Miller said power, water and all the alarm systems were operational by Wednesday morning and that meant roughly 20 residents were back in their homes by day’s end.
“Then, in the next few days we’re hoping to get people moved into the rest of the useable suites,” he said.
As for those who lived in the burnt portion of the building, it’s still unclear what will be torn down and what will left as is, as the fire inspector had just gotten on-site to determine that by Wednesday afternoon.
Many of those residents, Miller said, are lucky to have family to stay with nearby, while the rest have been placed in a hotel.
And when they return, all residents will likely have to revisit the retirement centre’s smoking policy.
Fire investigators looking into the blaze have concluded it was likely accidentally sparked by a cigarette.
“It was caused by discarded smoking material into a planter located at the exterior rear of the building adjacent to unit No. 59,” said Thomas Doherty, deputy fire chief.
“An accumulation of combustible material in the immediate area of the fire added to the fuel load which caused the fire to quickly spread throughout the structure.”
The Kelowna Fire Department also said residents of Highlands Retirement Residence would be well served to use caution when discarding smoking materials and to do so in non-combustible receptacles a minimum of one meter away from any combustible material.
The fire broke out early Monday morning, and with a little luck, none of the residents, employees or passersby who dived into the burning structure were injured
Some 40 firefighters were called to the scene and managed to save the bulk of the building, but the back 18 units were destroyed in the blaze, which was described by the fire department as difficult due to the weather conditions.