Saanich Fire crews were mopping up this fire in the 500 block of Ridgewood Place well into mid-afternoon Monday. Nobody suffered injuries because the home was unoccupied when the fire started, but a family of three including a young baby now face an uncertain future. Wolf Depner/Saanich News

Update: Monday afternoon fire guts family home in Saanich’s Royal Oak area

No one was home at the time and a cause has yet to be determined

A Saanich family of three including a young baby face an uncertain future after a fire Monday gutted their home in the Royal Oak neighbourhood.

Dan Wood, deputy chief with the Saanich Fire Department, said crews responded to the single family home in the 500 block of Ridgewood Place just after 1 p.m. Monday afternoon after receiving reports of smoke.

“Upon arrival, they found it [the house] fully engulfed, [with] heavy flames and smoke coming from the roof area, ” he said. Crews responded aggressively to knock down the fire, but found that many of the roof trusses had been burning for some time, he said. “So we retreated and made sure that we got most of the fire out.”

A search of the home revealed that both levels were unoccupied, he said. Crews then mopped up hot spots on the roof, he said.

“It [the fire] will be under investigation for some time, before we know the cause,” said Wood. While the fire likely started in the attic of the home, it had been burning for some time, he said.

Only the investigation will determine the cause at this stage, he said.

Neighbours told the Saanich News that a young couple with a young baby occupied the primary floor of the house, with two tenants living in the basement.

“Residents of the home were contacted and they are all safe,” said Wood.

The couple declined to speak when the Saanich News had approached them for comment. They, like many others, watched events unfold from the lawns of neighbouring houses.

Located near the intersection of Wilkinson Road and Mann Avenue, Ridgewood Place is a quiet suburban road that dead-ends. Monday’s incident drew a good number of spectators from the surrounding neighbourhoods, including a young boy no more than 10 years old, who had dressed up like a fire fighter.

At one stage, he found himself sitting inside one of the several vehicles on scene with a woman, presumably his mother, snapping pictures of him with her cellphone, as crews mopped up the scene with the assistance of Saanich Police, who had cordoned off sections of the street with yellow police tape.

Wood praised crews for their response under what he said were difficult conditions. “There was a bit of wind involved,” he said. In fact, heavy, yellow smoke could be seen drifting across the neighbourhood during the early stages of the fire.

“Once the fire breaks through the roof envelope, it turns into a wind-driven fire,” said Wood. “That escalates the burn. Crews did a great job of getting water on the fire and knocking it down safely.”

While Wood could not peg a figure to the damage that the fire caused, it has rendered the home uninhabitable.

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