A few sparks from a portable space heater spread into something much more significant Tuesday morning, pushing two West Kelowna residents out of their home for one night at least.
At approximately 1:47 a.m. Tuesday, West Kelowna Fire Rescue responded to a report of a portable space heater on fire in a residence located in the 1400 block of West Kelowna Road. The calls to 911 indicated that the heater had short circuited and flames had spread to nearby furniture.
“When the first engine arrived, they found smoke showing from the front of a two-storey single family residence,” said Darren Lee, assistant fire chief for West Kelowna Fire Department, in a press release.
“The residents informed the first arriving engine crew that they were alerted to the fire by working smoke alarms and had successfully knocked down with a two fire extinguishers.”
West Kelowna firefighters stretched a one and 3/4 inch attack line to the front door of the home but, never had to operate the hose inside the home.
“Firefighters were able to remove several pieces of damaged furniture from the home and overhaul them in the front yard. The area of ignition received minor fire damage however, smoke damage was prevalent throughout the main living areas of the home.
West Kelowna Fire Rescue responded with a total of three engines and one command unit. A total of 11 West Kelowna firefighters responded to the scene.
Emergency Support Services attended the scene and the two residents will be in their care overnight. WKFR fire investigators will conduct a fire cause an origin investigation at 8 a.m.
“In this case the resident was able to suppress the fire successfully,” said Lee. “However, WKFR would be remiss if we did not stress that anyone using a fire extinguisher must ensure that their own personal safety and the safety of others takes precedence over the preservation of property.”
In December of 2016 WKFR responded to a similar incident involving heating appliances and we provided the following information from National Fire Protection Association and the BC Office of the Fire Commissioner:
· Heating equipment fires accounted for 16 per cent of all reported home fires in 2009-2013 (second behind cooking) and 19 per cent of home fire deaths (second behind smoking materials).
· Space heaters are the type of heating equipment most often involved in home heating fires, figuring in two of every five of these fires and accounting for 84 per cent of associated civilian deaths, 75 per cent of civilian injuries, and 52 per cent of direct property damage.
· The leading factor contributing to ignition for home heating fire deaths (56 per cent) was heating equipment too close to things that can burn, such as upholstered furniture, clothing, mattress, or bedding.
· The leading factor contributing to home heating fires (30 per cent) was failure to clean, principally from solid-fueled heating equipment, primarily chimneys.