West Kelowna  

Explosions heard during outbuilding blaze in West Kelowna

Garbage hampers fire fight

UPDATE; 2:45 p.m.

West Kelowna bylaw officers are no strangers to a property on Colleen Road, which caught fire early Friday morning.

Residents of the area tell Castanet bylaws officers are "frequent" visitors to the property.

Director of development services Mark Koch, who oversees bylaws, couldn't get into specific details, but did say the city has received complaints.

"We can't speak to much detail in terms of individual bylaw infraction files, but we certainly can say there have been unsightly premises complaints received on the property," said Koch.

"Knowing the fire incident that occurred on the property, firstly we are obviously happy the brave men and women of West Kelowna Fire Rescue are safe, but it is definitely challenging when homes unsightly."

Koch did say bylaw officers always look for compliance in situations like this before digging deeper into their enforcement toolbox.

In certain instances, fines can be levied and, in extreme cases, the city can bring in their own clean-up crews and bill the property owner for the work.

Bylaw and RCMP both returned to the property Friday.

This is also not the first time fire crews have been called to the property. West Kelowna Fire Rescue responded to a call for a fire in the same outbuilding six months ago.

Fire Chief Jason Brolund says investigation into the fire has been complete, and cause will officially go down as undetermined.

He says condition of the building is such that it was unsafe for investigators to enter the structure safely to do the work needed in order to determine a cause.

ORIGINAL: 6:30 a.m.

Large amounts of garbage and debris on the property hampered firefighters' efforts to douse a fire in West Kelowna overnight.

Shortly after midnight, West Kelowna Fire Rescue crews responded to the blaze on Colleen Road. 

First arriving crews from the Lakeview Heights station found a large outbuilding that was fully involved in fire. Crews from the Westbank, Rose Valley and Glenrosa stations were also called in. 

Fire Chief Jason Brolund says the fire was quickly knocked down, however crews were challenged with a large amount of debris and stored materials on the property. The fire briefly extended into trees, but firefighters were able to keep it away from nearby buildings, he says. 

"The fire building posed a significant danger to firefighters due to its compromised structure, unstable basement and unknown contents, so the fire was fought defensively from the outside," says Brolund.

Four fire engines and 18 firefighters responded along with RCMP, paramedics, Fortis Gas and BC Hydro workers. 

The cause of the fire is under investigation. 

The public is reminded to keep your yard tidy to ensure easy access for firefighters who may be called to put out a fire. This makes our job safer and easier.

Nearby residents reported hearing three loud explosions during the fire.

"We could clearly see the flames from our house on Hudson Road," said Terri Lachelt. "The noises were heard by many people, all drawn outside to see what the explosions were."

Police were also focusing on a large U-Haul vehicle on site, says another neighbour.

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