A fire at the Arbor Lee condo complex on 40th Avenue in Vernon Monday night was one of the biggest in some time for Vernon Fire Rescue
Deputy chief Scott Hemstad says crews were exhausted after several hours of bringing the stubborn blaze under control in the building that dates back 40 to 50 years.
“The building codes that this structure was built to are not the same as currently in place. A structure of that size with that many occupants currently would have a sprinkler system involved and would have a potential sprinkler system on the balconies.”
Hemstad says they’ve determined it started on a balcony, but what sparked it remains under investigation.
Hemstad would not say if the police are involved in the probe, or if it was suspicious.
“That would point to a cause of the fire, so we’re going to leave that out.”
There was about 2 million dollars damage to eight units.
“And probably, two, 2.5 million dollars was saved because of the important and quick actions of all of the firefighters and the people that were on the scene.”
Eight units were damaged by fire or water.
“They’re going to be out for quite some time. Some of these suites are going to have to be extensively restored.”
Twenty-nine people from 11 families have sought support from emergency services since the fire.
Hemstad can’t say specifically what was in the smoke from the fire, but he says, in general, the toxins that come out of structure fires is extremely toxic, with the plastics and polyurethanes.
“That’s why sometimes people get themselves in trouble when they try to enter a building to get loved one or pets or valuables, not realizing that smoke can be deadly with in a few seconds.”
Hemstad stresses having ‘two ways out” from homes, and practicing the escape plan with your family.
It was a long night for fire crews, but Hemstad says crews were pleased with what they accomplished, and had a happy ending to the night.
“One of the best things we had as an outcome was, after the fire was extinguished and we were buttoning up the structure for security, we actually located three family family pets that were hiding within the structure.”
The Coldstream and BX Swan Lake fire departments also helped out at the scene.