At least five teens and a woman with disabilities escaped relatively unscathed after fire tore through the upper level of a Willow Point home early Friday morning.
According to Campbell River Fire Chief Ian Baikie, the smoke alarms were not working in the home at 2094 Varsity Drive and there were no parents or guardians there either when the blaze began sometime after 4 a.m.
“It was kind of anusual scenario,” said Baikie. “The fire was well established by the time we got here.”
Fire crews from the downtown and Willow Point halls responded to the blaze around 4:40 a.m. Thankfully, everyone was safely out of the house, but two people did receive treatment for smoke inhalation.
Neighbour Lory McIsaac woke up to a ringing doorbell and thought someone was playing a practical joke. But it was one of the kids from next door, calling for help.
“I saw the (fire) glow and thought, ‘oh, oh,’ and so I called 911,” he said.
McIsaac was glad the woman with disabilities, a tenant, got out okay, but then she thought her dog was still inside and one of the youths apparently tried to re-enter the burning home.
“That’s a very dangerous situation,” said Baikie.
The dog did get out okay along with everyone in the home. Baikie believes there were six people inside, but he doesn’t know for sure.
Other neighbours said the owners have been away lately and the home has become a drop-in centre for other teens.
According to Baikie, the teens were up until about 1 a.m., cooking in the kitchen and then went to bed. He said it didn’t appear the fire started around the stove, but somewhere else in the kitchen.
The heat from the blaze popped off the soffit covers and melted some of the siding. Smoke and water also heavily damaged the entire upper floor of the two-storey home.
Baikie said the home isn’t that old and the smoke alarms should have been connected. For “problem detectors” that tend to go off often due to kitchen smoke, Baikie said the best idea is to relocate, rather than disconnect them.