Kelowna's community planning department says a fire at Water’s Edge North would have likely spread to the second building, even if it was built farther back.
Residents living at Water’s Edge warned city council on Sept. 15 last year that if a fire were to occur, it would be difficult for firefighters to use the narrow space between the two buildings.
That possibility became a reality on July 8, when a fire started by a construction worker's torch quickly engulfed the under-construction Water's Edge North, eventually causing it to collapse.
Hundreds of people were displaced from their homes when the fire jumped to the occupied Water’s Edge building.
The city says a larger space between the two buildings wouldn't have made much difference.
“The city is trying to respond in writing to some of those residents and explain this, and again our heart goes out to them,” said Ryan Smith, community planning department manager. “I can’t imagine being displaced like that, but certainly both buildings met B.C.’s Building Code the way they needed to.”
Smith said even if the residential portion of Water’s Edge was farther away, it may not have made a difference because of the windy weather that day.
“There were way more factors outside of anyone's control that contributed to this,” said Smith. “It started with an unfortunate accident or oversight between a contractor and the property.”
Smith added it would have put firefighters in danger to put them between the two buildings.
“Our fire chief said that was not a tactic they would have used to fight a fire like this, ever,” said Smith.
Kelowna Fire Chief Travis Whiting said a review of the incident is being conducted.
“Any time we have a large loss, we do full a review on it and we will be continuing to do that for a number of reasons, both because of the loss and also because we had a firefighter injured, to look at how things went and what we can do and what the impact was and what different factors were,” he said.
Smith said council considered Water's Edge residents comments during the approval process last September, but the spacing between the buildings wasn't a concern, and still isn't.