Neighbours of an East Kelowna business were rocked Wednesday morning by an explosion that set an industrial building and cars surrounding it on fire.
“My husband felt it, and managed to move a few animals and put the sprinkler on near our fence line,” said Samantha Chatham, whose house is next door to Apple Valley Auto Wreckers, the source of the fire and explosion.
“I was out hiking (when it happened) and I got a phone call, and I thought it was a prank.”
The caller said simply, “Sam, there’s an explosion you need to go home,” Chatham recalled, as she stood beneath a veil of smoke with her 11-month-old son in her arms.
She asked if anyone died, and the caller told her they didn’t believe that to be the case.
Firefighters later confirmed there were no injuries at the small business.
Flames were knocked down by Kelowna Fire Department just an hour after making it to the scene, but Chatham was still shaken by the close call.
“In the beginning you see that huge ball of smoke and you think, ‘OK, what is going to happen to my life?'” Chatham said, noting that she understands better the feelings that those who live near wildfires experience.
Saucier Road and Rifle Road, Saucier Road and Wallace Hill Road and Saucier Road north of Wallace Hill Road were re-opened by 12:24 p.m.
Summary 11:05 a.m. Wednesday, Aug. 5: There were no injuries in a two-alarm fire at Apple Valley Auto Wreckers in East Kelowna, now confirmed.
Unconfirmed reports had the fire start by explosion.
Kelowna Fire Department let the primary blaze consume itself as it was too dangerous to do an internal attack because of the explosive materials in the building.
The fire was “knocked down” within an hour of the first call-out.
10:05 am Wednesday, Aug. 5 Unconfirmed report that Apple Valley Auto Wreckers business is on fire.
10:16 am: Building reportedly fully involved in fire.
Automobiles on the lot on fire.
Explosive situation as gas and other explosives on-site.
Unconfirmed report that gas containers blew up.
Fire fighters on-site calling it a “defensive attack.”
There are fire hydrants in the vicinity for fire-fighting.
Power lines knocked down: Power is off in the East Kelowna area. Fortis is responding to the situation.
10:24 am: Engine 3 staging at the site to assist in fighting the fire. Standing by until it is confirmed by Fortis that the power is off. Two-alarm fire.
10:27: Unconfirmed report that Fortis estimates another 25 minutes until it has a crew onsite.
Fire fighters call for 300 to 400 feet more hose length to reach from fire hydrant to fire location.
10:41am: Power confirmed off through the fire zone.
Fire fighters say it is too dangerous for the an interior attack. Efforts are being directed at the perimeter of the fire to prevent its spread to other properties. Fire being allowed to burn itself out.
10:52: Fire fighters in “salvage and overhaul” mode. Fire is “knocked down.”