The West Kelowna RCMP and the B.C. Coroners Service are investigating an explosive house fire on Elliot Road that left one deceased.
“At the time of the fire, there were four people inside the residence who were transported to the hospital for treatment.” Cpl. Meghan Foster said, “Sadly one person has died, having succumbed to his injuries in hospital, two have been deemed critical, and a fourth person has been released with minor injuries.”
The West Kelowna RCMP and Fire Department are working collectively to determine the cause of the fire, and investigators will remain at the property for the next few days to process the scene and collect evidence.
A young couple is also being treated for severe burns following a Wednesday night fire that destroyed an Elliott Road home in West Kelowna.
The explosions, heard as far away as Glenrosa, decimated the house and sent residents Chiara Boehlke and her boyfriend Aleck Villeneuve first to Kelowna General Hospital. The pair was airlifted to Vancouver General Hospital, according to Boehlke’s sister.
A witness to the fire who runs a nearby winery said area residents rushed to the scene following the explosion at around 9 p.m. Wednesday.
The witness, who asked not to be identified, said the neighbours tried to rescue a man trapped in the basement but were unsuccessful because of heavy smoke. Firefighters ultimately pulled the man from the burning building.
He also saw a young woman emerge from the fire with what appeared to be severe burns.
Boehlke’s sister has set up a GoFundMe page to help the couple, who were renting the house and did not have insurance.
Firefighters had to fight the flames from outside the building due to structural damage and the risk of further explosions, said the fire department. An excavator had to be brought in knock down parts of the burning building.
“We had to use an excavator to essentially demolish the house to make sure the fire was out” said Brolund.
A total of 17 firefighters and seven fire trucks were required to fight the blaze, with equipment from Westbank, Lakeview Heights and Glenrosa.
Fire investigators and police officers were back at the scene Thursday morning looking for clues as to how the fire started.
At one point, regional dog patrol officers arrived and took away a small black dog from the property.
Brolund said he expects the investigation into the cause of the fire will take more time than usual to complete because of the destruction of the house.
The flames from the fire ignited nearby grass and the witness said firefighters had to hose down his vineyard, which lies between his Ciao Bella Winery on Glencoe Road and the Elliot Road property where the house burned to make sure the vines did not catch fire.