Nanaimo Fire Rescue is investigating to find the cause of a fire that heavily damaged a home in the Hammond Bay area.
Firefighters responded to the alarm at a house in the 3800 block of Sundown Drive at about 12:45 a.m. Tuesday, July 25, and arrived to find flames erupting out of the front of the three-storey wood-frame house.
“All crews responded quickly. The initial crew did what we call a blitz attack and knocked the fire down as quickly as possible with the deck gun,” said Troy Libbus, Nanaimo Fire Rescue assistant chief.
The deck gun is a powerful water cannon mounted on the top of a fire truck.
Attacking the fire was challenging because of the steep terrain the house is built on. Fire crews had to tackle the blaze with a second truck from the rear of the house by positioning a second fire truck up Gibraltar Rock, a steep road that accesses several houses on Sundown Drive.
Three residents of the house and a family pet all escaped unharmed.
“They were alerted by the smoke alarms and exited the house safely,” Libbus said, adding that the occupants have insurance.
Neighbours said they heard what they thought were animals scratching around their homes only to discover what they were hearing was the crackling and popping of the fire. Embers flew across the road into neighbouring properties, but didn’t spark secondary fires, thanks in part to rain that soaked the area Monday.
Libbus stressed the importance of having working smoke alarms in homes and said, according to statistics from the B.C. Office of the Fire Commissioner, in 2022 there were 9,087 structure fires in the province that resulted in 112 injuries and 86 deaths, but working smoke alarms were present at just 45 per cent of reported structure fires.
“Having working smoke detectors saves lives, so we were very pleased with that and the crews worked extensively hard in such difficult conditions,” Libbus said. “There was a lot of damage to the interior.”