Photo: Carmen Weld/Black Press

Update: Cat saved, two West Kelowna homes gutted by BBQ fire

Family cat saved by firefighters

UPDATE: 1:26 p.m. Aug. 17

West Kelowna Fire Rescue says it has completed an investigation into a fire Thursday night in the Bayview gated community on WFN land near Westbank, and the cause has been deemed accidental.

“The fire has been deemed accidental and is not suspicious,” said fire chief Jason Brolund in a new release issued Friday. “The cause of the fire was attributed to a BBQ at the rear of one of the residences.”

The fire left two homes badly damaged and displaced 11 people and two pets, including cat that was pulled out of one of the burning buildings by a firefighter.

West Kelowna Fire Rescue is reminding the public to be cautious with all sources of heat and ignition outdoors.

A campfire ban remains in place and the public is asked to remain vigilant and report fire or smoke.

UPDATE: 7 a.m. Aug. 17

Early Thursday evening, West Kelowna Fire Rescue crews were called to a report of a BBQ fire in the Bayview community on WFN Territory.

“Crews responded from the Westbank Station and the call was subsequently upgraded to a structure fire, bringing crews from the Lakeview Heights, Glenrosa and Rose Valley stations,” said WK fire chief Jason Brolund in a press release.

“First arriving crews found a rapidly intensifying fire that had already spread into two homes prior to their arrival. The fire was stopped and no further homes were involved. It was knocked down defensively and once it was safe, crews proceeded into both homes to ensure that all residents had made it out and to suppress the fire. A single cat was rescued from inside the building by firefighters. All residents escaped the fire safely.”

Seventeen firefighters, five fire trucks and one command vehicle attended the scene along with BC Ambulance, RCMP, Fortis Gas and BC Hydro. Hot temperatures combined with poor air quality were factors that made the firefighters job even more complex.

Eleven persons and two pets are in the care of Emergency Support Services this evening. Firefighters will remain on fire watch at the scene overnight to ensure the fire is extinguished.

The cause of the fire is under investigation although it is not suspicious at this time. Fire investigators will commence a fire and cause determination investigation in the morning.

The public is thanked for their multiple calls to 9-1-1 to report the fire. During this time of extreme fire danger, we appreciate the vigilance of the community.

UPDATE: 7:15 P.M.

Two West Kelowna homeowners are facing devastation after their homes on the 2400-block of Old Okanagan Highway were gutted by a fire in West Kelowna.

Christian Bravo holds up his cat Smudge, saved from his burning house by West Kelowna firefighters. Photo: Carmen Weld/Black Press

The fire originated from the barbecue on the backyard deck of one home and spread to the neighbouring house before West Kelowna firefighters could douse the flames on the Westbank First Nation territory.

“There was significant challenge in keeping the fire from extending to a third house and to get the fire knocked down,” said West Kelowna Fire Chief Jason Brolund.

He said the dry conditions contributed to the fire spreading so quickly as did the houses being in close proximity to one another.

“The advice I would give to the public is to be very, very careful when barbecuing under the current hot and dry conditions,” Brolund said.

Christian Bravo, the neighbouring homeowner, raced home from work after being alerted by phone call from his wife to go home because the house was on fire and was able to see the family cat Smudge saved by firefighters, which generated a cheer from onlookers gathered at the scene. The cat was found in the basement amidst the fire and smoke.

Bravo’s wife and kids were away at the Vernon waterslide park when the fire started in their house. He said they have fire insurance.

The owner of the house where the fire originated quickly left the scene, distraught over what had happened.

Brolund said damage to both houses, particularly on the upper floors, was extensive.

—-

ORIGINAL 6:24 P.M.

West Kelowna firefighters are working to douse an aggressive fire that has damaged at least two homes.

The blaze, which is on the 2000 block of Old Okanagan Highway, is believed to have been started by barbecue and firefighters are on the roof of an adjacent home, hosing down flames.

Large plumes of smoke can be seen far from the scene and area residents are gathering and watching as firefighters try to get a grasp on the situation.

The Capital News has a reporter on scene and will update with more information when it comes available.

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