The death of an on-duty volunteer firefighter in an explosion at a local business has rocked Enderby.
Daniel Botkin, listed as age 29 by the B.C. Coroners Service, was killed battling a blaze at Sperlich Log Construction in the 200 block of Brickyard Road that broke out just before 4 a.m. Thursday.
“Shortly after 5 a.m., it appeared the fire was under control when there was an explosion in a shed on the site,” said Vernon-North Okanagan RCMP spokesperson Gord Molendyk.
“The explosion took the life of one of the volunteer firefighters on scene and it injured a second one.”
The injured firefighter was treated at the scene for non-life-threatening injuries.
Botkin and the injured firefighter are two of 24 volunteer members of the Enderby Fire Department.
Enderby Mayor Howie Cyr went down to the scene when he got the word early Thursday.
“Upon learning that we lost one of our firefighters, it was just an unbelievable, horrific feeling,” said Cyr.
“My heart goes out to his family and to the firefighters, his colleagues. They’re a close-knit bunch of guys who work together and train together.”
Cyr said the news would hit the community hard.
“I’ve been around here for 19 years and everybody knows everybody around here,” he said.
“Something like this is always tragic, but in a town this size, it’s just magnified. It’s unbelievable.”
Nobody was working at the time the fire broke out, but several employees were on hand to witness the aftermath, though they declined to speak to The Morning Star.
The first employees were scheduled to be at work at 7:30 a.m. Thursday, and the operation had shut down before 4 p.m. Wednesday.
The cause of the fire and explosion had not been released prior to The Morning Star’s deadline.
Ray Baumbach lives on neighbouring Baird Avenue. He woke up like he regularly does at 4 a.m. and was playing on his computer when he heard a loud bang.
“My chair shook and rolled away on me and I was wondering what happened,” said Baumbach.
“The next thing I know, I hear sirens going off. I got dressed and came over to have a look. The flames were coming up out of the building.”
The fire destroyed the timber-framed, open-ended structure with aluminum and wood roof, along with a log home being constructed for an overseas client.
According to the industry website www.canadianloghouse.com, Sperlich Log Construction “is a premium, second-generation Canadian log home builder.”
The company, which has been around Enderby for least 20 years, has been erecting quality log houses and post and beam structures in Canada, Japan and Germany for more than 10 years.
The B.C. Coroners Service and the RCMP continue to work with the Fire Commissioner and WorkSafe B.C. to determine the cause of the fire and explosion.